After a four-year hiatus, Bruno Mars finally returns to the music scene with 24K Magic, his third studio album. Mars has been known for releasing sleek, concise albums that integrate catchy hooks into a strong cohesive work. This is still the case, as he captured the funk and soul he strived for with the creation of this album.
With only nine songs, 24K Magic played at a mere 33 minutes. The first half of the songs on the record was high tempo, high energy and incredibly catchy. Nearly every song on the album was produced by first time producers Shampoo Press & Curl. In the second half of the album, Mars slowed things down with ballads that resembled those of Michael Jackson during the height of his career. While the production was clean and well-mixed, the ballads couldn’t support the shallow lyrics present on most of the album.
Mars opened the album with “24K Magic,” an electrifying introduction to his new sound. For the first time, Mars established himself as a top dog and boasted about his riches. While the song was undeniably catchy and sounded like a younger sibling to the Mark Ronson collaboration “Uptown Funk,” it felt like the singer sold out.
One of the most troubling lyrics within the opening song is, “bad b—tches and your ugly ass friends.” Gone were the serenading words of chart-topping hits such as “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Just the Way you Are.” Mars sounded less like he would catch a grenade for his lover and more like would refer to women as grenades with this new attitude.
Mars quickly retracted this mentality, however, with the second song “Chunky.” The mid-tempo jam had Mars describing his ideal woman. It was catchy and funky and also empowers women. He often walked the line between respect and offense toward women with several songs in the album.
Following “That’s What I Like” is the album’s second pre-released single “Versace on the Floor.” With a resemblance to “When I Was Your Man,” Mars slows things down for a powerful ballad with a synth backed by handclaps. The song is sexy and catchy, but easily forgettable when compared to the other tracks on the record.
“Finesse” provided a much-needed beat change for the record, but its content was too hollow to reignite the excitement of the early tracks on 24K Magic. Mars closed the album with a more raw, slow-burning ballad “Too Good to Say Goodbye.” The song represented the deeper, meaningful lyrics Mars is generally known for. The song saved the album from being completely hollow.
With 24K Magic, Bruno Mars brought together a collection of songs into what could be his most sonically cohesive album yet. While the lyrical content at times felt shallow and insincere, Mars clearly had a lot of fun in the recording process. Fans of his previous work will mostly be satisfied by the fun, danceable tracks on the album. The record was undoubtedly fun and smooth, but was not deep enough to warrant a second or third listen.