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Mark Ronson

Uptown Special


Feb 26, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

“Uptown Funk,” the first single off of Mark Ronson‘s new album Uptown Special, is a funk and Motown track, slickly bedazzled with the coolness of Bruno Mars’s attitude and style, and though the album as a whole doesn’t totally resemble that track inasmuch as a surface approach, it does seem to be indicative of this sonic painting of a particular time and landscape. In “Summer Breaking,” Kevin Parker of Tame Impala’s vocals are reminiscent of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.” But here, there’s a slightly smoother, darker quality, recalling the pink painted imagery of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive.

Ronson seems rather unsung in his ability to mix and match style and aesthetic, his lauded 2007 album Version the most exemplary of this. On it he transformed Britney Spears’s quasi-Bond theme “Toxic,” thick with strings and electronic brush strokes, into a sultry, syrupy track while still retaining the original song’s penchant for danger. That kind of playfulness is also evident in “Daffodils,” also with Kevin Parker, which pulls from the electro-funk style of Chromeo and their precedents.

But for all the technical charm that Ronson is able to pull off on this album, a lyrically nimble one with the employment of Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon, it never reaches sexy. There’s an attempt here and there, as in “Leaving Los Feliz” and “Heavy and Rolling,” which both channel different modes of sex appeal. But both tracks seem so conscious of the mechanics there’s a lack of looseness and flow to them, and the album as a whole, for them to really reach the heights of sonic eroticism. To be sure, Ronson’s album is extremely proficient, excellent with its little witticisms and hints of vanity (Mars croons, “I gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty!”), but while these folks have the funk, they’re just short of sex appeal. (

Author rating: 7/10

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