Mark Ronson: Uptown Special

mark ronsonMark Ronson
Uptown Special
(RCA Records)

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Since the beginning of his career, Mark Ronson has been a master of collaboration and nostalgia. Uptown Special relies on an arsenal of distinctive vocalists to carry off Ronson’s funky riffs and beats as well as lyrics by acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon. There are a few moments when the record suffers from a lack of imagination, but for the most part, Uptown Special is a fun, refreshing experience.

“Uptown Funk” is one of the most inescapable hits right now, and for good reason. Bruno Mars brings the perfect energy and swagger (“I’m too hot/Make a dragon want to retire, man”) for the throwback hit. I never thought that I would fall for a Mystikal track, but he brings a certain James Brown element to Ronson’s brand of soul. Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow’s croon is the perfect match for the choir/electro track “Crack in the Pearl.” By the time Stevie Wonder comes in on “Crack in the Pearl, Pt. II,” you should already be dancing. That guitar, that harmonica, that beat? You can practically see the disco ball when you close your eyes.

The one fault with Uptown Special is that at times it feels too familiar without adding anything fresh. Kevin Parker’s voice has a tendency to be too soft and blend into the background for me, though that’s a matter of taste. In the next few months, releases will have a difficult time fending off Ronson’s record for the crown of the soundtrack to summer.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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