It’s finally here. The long-awaited debut for Silk Sonic, titled “An Evening With Silk Sonic,” was released on Friday, Nov. 12 and has been on repeat ever since. The duo, composed of popstar Bruno Mars and the incredibly versatile, equally talented Anderson .Paak, delivered on expectations and then some on the group’s first project, leaving fans desperate for more.
The album comes in at just over 30 minutes, met through nine beautifully composed tracks that feel like a blast from the past. The album carries heavy soul and funk influences throughout, sending the listener back in time to when these genres ran the charts, while simultaneously incorporating many of the sounds that have propelled both of these musicians to the top of their respective games.
The soul and funk influences aren't left to interpretation, with perennial icon Bootsy Collins hosting the album with various narrations across the project. Collins earned his stripes as one of the most prominent bassists in both the soul and funk genres, performing alongside all-time greats such as James Brown over the course of his long and ever-expanding career. The inclusion of Collins on this project is the cherry on top for this smooth and funky record, with Silk Sonic clearly wanting to pay homage to the greats of the sound.
The album opens up with “Silk Sonic Intro,” a track that comes in at just over a minute long, and sets the tone for the rest of the project. The track introduces both Mars and .Paak with the artists harmonizing over a funky assortment of percussion and brass instruments that set the sound for the album as a whole. The track also introduces the aforementioned Collins, whose soothing vocals exemplify the creative direction the duo were searching for.
The remaining eight tracks on the album cover a lot of ground, touching on the topics of love, sex, vanity and heartbreak. The album's second track, “Leave The Door Open,” addresses the first three of those themes, with the duo portraying a longing for companionship on a lonely night. The first full-length song on the album feels like another addition to the Mars vault of classics, with the track containing all of the elements that have catapulted the artist to this stage in his career. Throw in .Paak’s equally impressive contributions and it’s no secret why this song has amassed over 628 million streams since its release as a single in March earlier this year.
The themes of love and heartbreak are things both of these artists have flirted with over the course of their respective solo careers, and for them to do it together is the ultimate prize for any listener who considers themselves a fan of either. The tracks “After Last Night,” “Smokin Out The Window” and “Put On A Smile” are a trifecta that nearly complete a thematic circle.
The first of the three songs, “After Last Night,” portrays the image of falling in love after a one-night stand. The duo, along with Collins and Thundercat, cover the topic with a level of grandiose that can’t be found anywhere else, bringing a huge sound to the track. The next stop in the circle is “Smokin Out The Window,” which glances at the repercussions of falling in love with the wrong person. Silk Sonic covers the topic over a grand sound, really sticking to the soul roots of the project, which fits into a track like this one seamlessly.
The third song in the run, “Put On A Smile,” will likely become a breakup anthem that will stand the test of time, with the duo expressing an attempt to cover up the pain of losing a lover with the luxuries of a superstar lifestyle. The artists acknowledge that the lifestyle is all a front for how they truly feel about their feelings, and those feelings shine through with powerful performances from both Mars and .Paak. If it wasn’t evident before, the way these artists are able to masterfully play off each other’s strengths, vocally and stylistically, is put on full display in the record’s fifth track.
Despite all the underlying themes, deep connections to classic genres and intricate arrangements, this album is still just as much a pop album as anything else. There are plenty of fun and funky tracks throughout the project, including “Fly As Me,” “777” and “Skate.” These songs are the ones that really exemplify the vanity Silk Sonic was trying to display on the record, with the tracks going in depth on the lifestyles of the personas the artists put on for the making of this album.
Silk Sonic - Fly As Me pic.twitter.com/PJmi0jTPIe— Marcel Playing Songs (@playthatmarcel) November 15, 2021
The project comes to its conclusion with the final track, “Blast Off,” that is as grand as the tracks prior. The song uses the idea of drug use to portray taking a night to the next level, once again paying homage to the superstar lifestyle that has become the central setting of this album. The track is a perfect conclusion to the massive sound of the album, incorporating many of the sounds found before it in the tracklist before closing the project out with a smooth outro.
As much as fans would have liked to have a larger collection of songs from this superstar duo, the album length feels perfectly fitting. Despite the fact many of these songs would stand as singles, and do extremely well on the charts, there are themes that can be found in each and every song throughout the project. For that to remain the case, condensing the tracklist is often the best solution and it is done masterfully here.
There are no official discussions of future projects for the duo, and with Mars' reputation for how often he drops music it could be a very long time, if at all, that we see these two back in action together again. One thing is for certain, Silk Sonic struck gold with its debut and the music will live on for years to come.