There are certain feelings that cannot be put into words. That feeling which is a combination of joy, good vibes and a solid bass line, and which is best encapsulated by “An Evening With Silk Sonic” (2021), is one of them. Released on Nov. 12, the album is the synthesis of creative genius. Pop culture icon Bruno Mars and the masterful Anderson .Paak are Silk Sonic, and their shared project “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is the perfect blend of ‘70s soul and disco topped off by a large dose of modern charisma. With the legendary Bootsy Collins narrating the album throughout, the album is an ode to the music and style of the ‘70s, but “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is entirely unique to Mars and Paak. Highlighting Paak’s effortless rapping and Mars’ signature vocal style, the album isn’t just an imitation of ‘70s music — it’s a reflection on its influence on modern music.
All nine tracks, including the three prereleases that hinted at the quality of the album to follow, fit cohesively together, and yet each offers something special. “Silk Sonic Intro” sets the tone for the rest of the songs to follow, introducing Bootsy Collins as the curator of this ‘70s time capsule. The intro flows seamlessly into “Leave The Door Open.” A prereleased single, it is so far the album’s most-streamed track with over 625 million streams on Spotify. “Leave The Door Open” showcases Mars’ beautiful voice swinging over the main choruses as Paak lines up the rhythmic verses. The subsequent “Fly As Me” stands out from the rest of the album for its dirty bass line and warbling guitar accents. The track is washed in Silk Sonic’s playful charisma as they sing “I deserve to be/ With somebody as fly as me/ Somebody this fly.”
“After Last Night (with Thundercat & Bootsy Collins)” follows the upbeat “Fly As Me” with a return to a slower, more sensual ballad style. Drawing on Paak’s and Mars’s singularly stylish vocal riffs and harmonization, the song is easily one of the best from the album. It is immediately continued by the soothing but upbeat “Smokin Out The Window,” opened by a delicate string quartet tremolo. These strings wash over the choruses throughout — slightly distant from the main melody, but audible and significant nevertheless. It is because of these strings that the end of this song and the emergence into the next, “Put On a Smile,” is so smooth. “Put On a Smile” opens with the same string quartet flitting cinematically down a scale and dissolving into another tremolo. As “Put On a Smile” builds, the percussive elements are often underscored by the sounds of thunder and rain and distinguish this track for its ingenuity. It’s really the small details like these that make the album so sonically interesting and fresh.
And the groove continues through the rest of the track list. “777” is unabashedly this author’s favorite. The syncopated rhythms and powerful bass guitar really strengthen a song that was already an impressive display of Silk Sonic’s decadence. The horns and varied rhythmic structure on the drum kit lend the song its own distinct place on the track list. “Skate” is as smooth as the title would suggest, evoking images of retro roller-skating rinks as Paak and Mars sing about falling in love. And finally, “Blast Off” is deceptively sweet and calm with an upbeat tempo that fades into a luxurious outro, closing out the project with soft piano and ethereal strings over the lyrics “Blastin’ off straight to some good vibrations/ Can we take it higher?” followed by a few finishing words from Bootsy Collins.
Throughout, the album is characteristically fun. Silk Sonic is truly one of the best musical collaborations of the past decade, and the resulting “An Evening With Silk Sonic” will not easily be forgotten. The kind of funky groove exhibited by Mars and Paak seems perfectly tailored to this moment in time despite its reliance on ‘70s motifs. However, equally impressive is that Mars’s fame never seems to overpower Paak. Even in the music videos for tracks like “Skate” and “Smokin Out The Window,” Silk Sonic feels like the musical project of two highly respected musicians on even footing despite Paak’s smaller following. It is an album which transcends generations and unites ‘70s soul and disco with that special touch only provided by Mars and Paak. “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is decadent and suave, classy and raunchy, funny and sweet. It would be hard to enumerate every other applicable descriptor, but they would certainly all be praiseful.