In a day and age rife with homogenized music drenched in autotuned rambling, Spotify and I often retreat into the past in order to relish the passion and showmanship that contemporary music no longer affords. To that end, I sure as hell can’t fault Silk Sonic, comprised of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars, for expressing their own eagerness to do the same with their first collaborative project, An Evening With Silk Sonic.
After teasing us all year with infectious singles like “Skate,” “Smokin’ Out the Window,” and the instant classic “Leave the Door Open,” the duo initially insisted on postponing their debut album until 2022, only to realize the error of their ways and announce our nostalgic anointing was coming just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
So after binging on An Evening With Silk Sonic all weekend—which isn’t exactly a daunting task, considering the album is only 31 minutes long (more on that later)—here are some of my thoughts, musings, and observations.
This Is a Strong Contender for Album of the Year
I hate to state the obvious with conviction, but SPOILER WARNING: This album is good as shit. Narrated by funk overlord Bootsy Collins, the self-described “Blaster of the Universe,” An Evening With Silk Sonic is a delicious concoction of intricate arrangements and cheeky humor, with its lush harmonies and melodic nods to yesteryear. “Fly as Me,” with its exuberant chest-pounding, and the seductive “After Last Night” best exemplify this formula, with the agony—and melodrama—of “Smokin’ Out the Window” serving as icing on the cake.
But what makes this album unparalleled among its peers isn’t just its attention to detail—in August, the duo revealed to Rolling Stone that “dozens” of versions of the album were scrapped in their relentless pursuit of perfection—its how fucking fun it is to listen to. You can’t spell “funky” without “fun,” and both are very much present and accounted for throughout this entire project. If you don’t catch the Holy Ghost listening to .Paak going clean the fuck off while playing the drums on “777,” I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve said time and time and time again that Cleo Sol’s Mother is the best album I’ve heard all year (and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it ends up being one of the best releases this decade), but An Evening With Silk Sonic presents the first true threat to her throne.
Can We Get a Deluxe Version? Because...
I’m super-cool on all of these 87-song playlists masquerading as albums every Friday (DONDA anyone?), but while An Evening With Silk Sonic does feel like a complete body of work (the sequencing on this album is stellar because it actually tells a full story), with only 8 songs (nah, bruh; intros don’t count), it also feels like somebody barked, “Last call!” a little too soon.
Just when we get our swagger back with “Skate,” after the heartache and embarrassment of “Smokin’ Out the Window,” our vibrant night on the town with Silk Sonic has almost drawn to a close. “Blast Off” delivers a perfect send-off with its ethereal strings and majestic key changes, but damn. Can I at least finish my glass of Crown Royal XR first?
I shared this same frustration with recent releases from Lion Babe (2021's Rainbow Child) and Victoria Monét (2020's critically-acclaimed Jaguar), but each of those overcame their shortcomings by still being able to satiate my appetite. Whereas An Evening With Silk Sonic, with its matching cinnamon suits and seductive crooning, is about three songs short of truly leaving an indelible mark on the same industry it aspires to revitalize.
I Have an Idea
In closing, while I love this album—although dropping it on the same day as Taylor Swift’s re-recording of Red was probably the worst idea in the history of bad ideas—if Silk Sonic is truly committed to injecting new life into the past, they should strongly consider dedicating each album to a different decade. Bruno already stuck the landing with 2016's “Finesse,” with Cardi B lending her assistance to his playful ode to New Jack Swing, and .Paak is no stranger to dabbling in the past either, tapping Motown legend Smokey Robinson for 2019's “Make It Better.” Y’all really think a Jheri-curled .Paak wouldn’t kill it with Mars pounding away on the keytar? Or that they couldn’t deliver some House Party vibes with a little help from their secret weapon, producer D’Mile?
I’m here for it. And if An Evening With Silk Sonic is the first chapter of what Silk Sonic has in store, I’m not the only one who can’t wait to read the rest of the book.