What starts as the ambition to make the people groove on two feet as the production’s glossy rhythm infectiously manipulates the neurons in their brain became a little more profound, fun, and nuanced for Silk Sonic: the new super duo, consisting of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars. The two have been known for the electrifying R&B-Soul infusions that expand its limits by balancing it out with a modern flair – Anderson did so with Malibu and Ventura, and Bruno Mars for most of his career. And uniting for An Evening with Silk Sonic, they deliver just that. This collaboration offers a quick, whirlwind experience that paces itself swiftly for a predominantly up-tempo album.
Riding the coattails of the summer smash and bed rocking, “Leave the Door Open,” the expectations were high for the duo, to only be boosted by the inclusion of Bootsy Collins MCing the album/performances. The song heightens the strengths of both artists, and if most of what we were to get mirrored that, then it would be a great album. And most songs do, like the eloquent and swagger-filled “Fly As Me,” which sees Anderson back to his smooth and smile-inducing rhythm and flows that sometimes feel like a fever-dream when he delivers. Parallel to it comes many, like “Smoking Out The Window,” which cements Bruno Mar’s effervescent presence as he leads another song.
For Anderson .Paak and his adlibs – they don’t hit the landing as frequently as his rapping and drum playing on An Evening with Silk Sonic. But his presence is pivotal in blending in a nuanced cool vibe – a kind that has you rocking the flashiest bell-bottoms with a loose and colorful button-down. Most of the time, it is the Bruno Mars show, and his presence has an elegance, especially in the backing vocals – in contrast to Paak and his. It’s subtle, barely making a dent in the quality of the song, which goes to show the skill of these artists, who can keep the fluidity despite hiccups.
The chemistry between the two is seamless – each song has the kind of synergy that gets you feeling lifted and one with your body, but it focuses on a heavy-set mood that can’t play at any given moment. It embodies more than just your standard, hyper-set, and linear models where themes align to tell a big picture; it personifies the locomotive engine in your legs that moves without proper nerve functions. You can attribute it to the dynamic palette like a shimmy-two step, slow dance grooves, and swaggalicious percussion rhythms that you can’t help but get lost within the 32-minute album. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like 32 minutes. Once it ends, it may send you trekking into older music or keeping An Evening With Silk Sonic on repeat.
However, An Evening With Silk Sonic flying by swiftly made me feel like I didn’t truly hear the songs in-between “After Last Night” and “777.” It took continuous listens for the unique productions to shine and differentiate themselves amongst the rest. Though a part of me feels the awe-inducing production, lyrics, and vocal performances on “After Last Night” left a heavy impression. It’s the only song to contain credited features – Bassist Thundercat and the Mack Daddy of Bassists, Bootsy Collins – to perform backing vocals. Thundercat’s inclusion is subtle, but it adds to the beautiful reverb in the chorus, while Bootsy continues to MC on this journey – mixing that with the funkadelic and bass-heavy production is what kept that delightful ring in the ear.
But it’s more than just his captivating voice that brought about a constant return for me to these songs in between the previously mentioned. “Smoking Out The Window” is a powerhouse performance that sees Mars carrying, as Paak delivers a forgettable verse. “Put On A Smile” is crooning at its finest, with the contrasting pitches shining over the more subdued production, but if I were to select a weak link, it is this song, as it doesn’t hold steady weight, compared to the others that keep a specific groove stuck in my mind – simply it feels like a stoppage gap where the music slows back down a little.
For “Smoking Out The Window,” it’s easy to gloss over Anderson Paak’s verse, considering Paak shines almost everywhere else like on “Silk Sonic Intro” as he establishes the riotous energy that will slowly peak after “Leave The Door Open.” The grooves come like a rollercoaster – a prominently effective one – it’s fun with individual highlights, but some moments keep you on heavily focused, especially the final song. “Blast Off” sends off the album on a high note with soulful and spacey sonic symmetry that you feel like it is sending you into space. And it’s a feeling that becomes more and more resonant with countless listens. From these listens, you start to marvel at the craftsmanship between both artists, especially when they are hitting a peak in greatness.
An Evening With Silk Sonic reaches its goal, despite being less than perfect. It is hypnotic and transfixing as your body sways to the rhythm, unaware that the two-step and gyration is just part of feeling the effervescent vibe throughout. But as you connect to it closer, the more it becomes part of your mood-dancing mix – this includes you cool cats out there, sippin’ bourbon neat, and smoking cigarettes before the dance floor utters the first letter of your name. If only An Evening With Silk Sonic was longer, but beggars can’t be choosers.