A silky smooth sound

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak release highly anticipated collab album

R&B duo Silk Sonic released “An Evening with Silk Sonic” on Nov. 12, this is the first time Bruno Mars and Andersen .Paak have worked together on a project and the feedback from the album was very positive.

Photo courtesy of pitchfork.com

R&B duo Silk Sonic released “An Evening with Silk Sonic” on Nov. 12, this is the first time Bruno Mars and Andersen .Paak have worked together on a project and the feedback from the album was very positive.

Miguel Paredes Reyes, Miguel Paredes Reyes, MWHS Wildcat News co-Editor-in-Chief, co-Striv Executive Producer

Popstar Bruno Mars and rapper Anderson .Paak release “An Evening with Silk Sonic.” The pair debuted their collaboration earlier in the year with their first single “Leave the Door Open,” which received very positive feedback and garnered a lot of attention for this project. 

Going into the project I was excited to see how the two artists would sound together and how this would affect their individual careers especially .Paak. Everyone knows Mars and what he can bring, but .Paak is less well known and has spent most of his career in the underground scene. The last time we had heard from these artists individually on a big project was in 2016 with Mars’ “24K Magic” album and in 2019 with .Paak’s “Ventura.” The album is fairly short with a total of nine tracks spanning only 31 minutes and 19 seconds.

The album kicks off with a short ,but sweet introduction titled “Silk Sonic Intro,” which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The first half is an upbeat groove with .Paak and Mars singing together on just a simple clap beat. Mars then introduces funk icon Bootsy Collins, whose influence is all over the album, plays a significant role in the rest of the album. Collins then introduces the name of the group “Silk Sonic” and ends with a smooth transition into the next song.

The next song is one we are already familiar with “Leave the Door Open.” It was the first song the duo released as a single for the album and it is the perfect way to introduce the two talented stars. The romantic lyrics and smooth delivery by .Paak combined with the heavenly adlibs give the verses a very smooth feeling. On the chorus, Mars gives his typical performance which is not a bad thing (strong vocals that make you feel whatever he’s singing about.) His voice and the background singer adding to the intensity from the verses makes it an amazing song to start the experience of the album.

The band follows up “Leave the Door Open,” which has a smooth and relaxing vibe with an upbeat banger that can only be described as pure funk in “Fly As Me.” The groovy baseline and one of .Paak’s greatest performances make up for the fact that Mars isn’t very prevalent in the song, giving .Paak the opportunity to show he can carry a song. The lyrics are boisterous and mirror a lot of .Paak’s other work like his collaboration with NxWorries, “Link Up.” It gives off a very confident and feeling-yourself vibe and the chorus especially depicts what they were going for.

The fourth track on the album “After Last Night” starts off a three track run of not only the best songs on the album, but some of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Collins comes in first with a quick introduction. Mars then comes through with his first pivotal role in the album (outside of singing the chorus) and absolutely delivers, with a great vocal performance. This time it’s .Paak delivering on the chorus along with smooth adlibs from Collins. The lyrics are nothing too deep, but it does not take away from the song much as the delivery keeps you distracted.

Smoking out the Window: This song has much more creative songwriting than the previous songs. The track talks about the frustration of love when having an unfaithful partner, with some comedic worldplay like in the first verse where Mars says “Got her bada** kids runnin’ ’round my whole crib Like it’s Chuck E. Cheese,” Mars and .Paak have much shorter verses but you barely notice because the chorus is a thing of beauty. Mars comes in with the strong vocals and .Paak throws in some adlibs. The background vocals help the chorus transcend into a chill and smooth sound gives the song much more texture. 

Now we move on to my personal favorite track off the album “Put On A Smile.” While “After Last Night” lacked in lyrics but made up for in delivery, this song has some of the best lyrics on the project with outstanding performances from everybody involved. While .Paak is mainly known for his rapping, he shows that he has quite an amazing singing voice. On the chorus especially the duo switch every line and do a great job of complementing each other. The lyrics tell a similar story to “Smoking out the Window” but with a focus on heartbreak while trying to act like you are doing just fine. The ones that most stood out to me are at the end of the second verse where .Paak says,“I’m tryin’ hard to hide the shame, I know I’m playin’ a dangerous game, But since you been gone, I ain’t been the same, There’s only so much a man can fake.” Mars has his best vocal performance of the album by far, hitting multiple beautiful high notes, and you can hear the pain in the lyrics not just from him but .Paak as well.

We transition from a soulful, emotional track to another braggadocious banger all about gambling with “777.” The production on it has a heavy rock influence and Mars carries the song vocally, sounding like something off his last album “24K Magic”. Similar to “Fly As Me,” it’s a great song if you’re feeling confident and the high energy gives you an adrenaline rush.

While by no means is this a bad song, “Skate,” is my least favorite. It’s surrounded by tracks that deliver so much either lyric-wise or sound-wise and this song does both well, but not great. It’s a more upbeat song but doesn’t match the intensity of “Fly As Me” or “777,” and the lyrics, while occasionally clever at times, don’t hit you emotionally or get you super hyped up. A positive note from the song is the combination of sounds in the background. It’s a song that would be amazing if it weren’t surrounded by better songs

At the final song of the album, I was left wondering what they would come with. They’d already given us upbeat bangers, emotional rollercoasters and funky type sounds. They cap it all off with a soothing experience that makes you feel like you’re floating on “Blast Off.” It brings in multiple elements from previous songs and transforms them into something new. You hear the harmonization from “Smoking out the Window,” the signature sound from “After Last Night” that gives it the psychedelic feel. The subject matter matches the aesthetic perfectly, with Mars and .Paak singing about being transported to another world. Everything is capped off the way it started with Collins bidding farewell and happy trails.

Overall, this album wasn’t just an album, it was an experience. It does so many things perfectly and is a project you can easily listen to on a short car ride. Mars and .Paak play off each other so well, I couldn’t think of a better duo to make an album like this. I also love that .Paak is finally getting the recognition he deserves and the two are very evenly split on the project. I was expecting Mars to take over and carry the album but both artists did their thing without one taking over. The only criticisms I have is that occasionally the subject matter and lyrics get repetitive and don’t go too in depth. The album seems to jump back and forth from being energetic and upbeat to smooth and emotional. I would’ve switched around the track list so the intensity either gradually comes down or goes up. 

In a year with many artists lately inflating their projects with 20+ songs that are mostly filler, Silk Sonic gives us a short masterpiece that emphasizes quality over quantity. ⅘