Album review: Bruno Mars takes on too much on ‘24K Magic’

Mike Pizzo

Three stars

Bruno Mars 24K Magic

Bruno Mars has struck gold mining classic tunes for hits, like the Police-inspired “Locked Out of Heaven” or mega-smash “Uptown Funk.” Yet producer Mark Ronson, who was behind both of those, is notably absent on Mars’ latest, 24K Magic, with the bulk of the production instead handled by Shampoo Press & Curl and The Stereotypes.

The title single does for Zapp what “Uptown Funk” did for electro-funk soul, but the album peaks too early by leading off with it. From there, Mars attempts to put his spin on every subgenre of R&B and soul, with mixed results. The James Brown-inspired “Perm” is fun, with Dap King Homer Steinweiss playing funky drummer, and the radio-ready “That’s What I Like” will surely dominate drivetime.

But tracks like the embarrassingly overproduced “Versace on the Floor” and the “Computer Love”-ish “Calling All My Lovelies” sound less old-school cool than just old. If anything, 24K Magic will remind you that there’s a discernible difference between Prince and Peabo Bryson.

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