Building hype and excitement since February, the supergroup Silk Sonic, featuring Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars, have finally released their debut album, “An Evening With Silk Sonic.” Bruno Mars needs no introduction as one of the best-selling artists of all time. An entire article could be written just about the hits he has had. Anderson .Paak, while somewhat lesser known, is an extremely talented drummer, songwriter, rapper and vocalist. .Paak has always turned toward soul and funk as his genre of music, which was something he and Mars bonded over. These two met during the European leg of Mars’ “24K Magic World Tour” in 2017. They quickly became friends and decided one day as a joke to make an album together. Lo and behold, the pair have released an album that, as the band name describes, is as smooth as silk.
The first song, “Silk Sonic Intro,” introduces the host of the album, Bootsy Collins. The use of a host ties into the concept of the album being a set list of a show. Collins adds context to the stories of the tracks and threads all of the songs together. In “Smokin Out The Window,” for example, Collins introduces the song, “Wait a minute, this love started out so tender, so sweet / But now she got me smokin’ out the window.” It is the perfect garnish to the main components of the song. “Smokin Out The Window” is also one of the many great tracks on the record for exemplifying its funk/soul fusion sound.
Mars and .Paak work together extremely well, sharing traits of showmanship and charisma while also featuring different complementary musical abilities. This can be heard in the lead single “Leave The Door Open” in which Mars shows off his vocal range with brilliant falsetto runs while .Paak uses his swagger and charm throughout the verses. The hit single also features a catchy hook and introduces key sounds used throughout the record like the piano, glockenspiel and strings.
“Fly As Me” brings both singers’ braggadocio and fun personalities to the forefront. In particular, .Paak shines in the verses, rapping with a cool flow and featuring memorable lyrics. The horns and organ create fantastic explosions of sound throughout that show off more marvelous sonic textures. “Skate” and “777” are two more examples of the greatness of this album. “777” builds off of a jaunty guitar riff with dynamic vocals from Mars and .Paak. The whole vibe of the song is lively and about having a lot of fun. “Skate” puts the strings up front as the main event with more beautiful vocal harmonies and melodies from the duo.
“An Evening With Silk Sonic” does not come without surprises as well. Modern bass legend Thundercat appears on the soulful, sensual “After Last Night.” Mars sings his heart out, hitting notes that did not seem possible for him. The closer, “Blast Off,” is a sweet, psychedelic R&B song about taking psychoactive drugs. The end of the song has Mars singing, “Can we take it higher?” And each time the line is sung, the key signature gets raised again. These instances keep the album refreshing and warrant repeat listens.
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak teaming up is one of the best gifts to come in 2021, and Christmas has not even come yet. The duo complements each other’s strengths while also challenging each other on their musical ability. The record is perfectly paced, running at just above 30 minutes, and never slows down for a second. Every song offers something new that shines, whether it is a certain guitar riff or vocal run. This release will skyrocket to legendary status in the coming years and the music industry should be scared if Silk Sonic reunites for a follow-up album in the future.