Music Review: Mark Ronson – Uptown Special

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Mark Ronson – Uptown Special

By Fraser Bryce

Pop music appears to be underdoing a renaissance. More and more, synthesised instruments and drum machines are being replaced in favour of the real thing, and disco is slowly creeping back into the sound. This is partly what makes Mark Ronson’s latest offering stand out from the crowd. ‘Uptown Special’ is his homage to his influences, namely funk, disco and even a bit of glam rock.

The result is spectacular. The music sounds so – please forgive me for using this word – retro that you’d expect to hear the crackle of a turntable in the background. The production, as to be expected from a producer’s solo album, is crisp and clear, with plenty of thumping bass and crunchy guitars. And the songs. Damn the songs are good. The album follows Ronson’s usual blueprint of using a different singer for every song, but not once does the album feel disjointed. Obviously, unless you live under a rock, you’ll have heard ‘Uptown Funk’, a collaboration with the effortlessly cool Bruno Mars that harkens back to early 80’s Michael Jackson with the best use of the phrase “Hot damn!” you will hear all year. But that’s not even the best song on the album. From Mystikal’s speed rapping on ‘Feel Right’, to the more low-key ‘Summer Breaking’, to the glam-tinged riffing on ‘In Case Of Fire’, every song on this album is a breath of fresh air. Even Stevie Wonder makes an appearance on two of the album’s tracks; opener ‘Uptown’s First Finale’ and closer ‘Crack In The Pearl pt. II’.

However, it’s not all vintage disco. This album remains firmly rooted in the 21st century. Songs like ‘I Can’t Lose’ and ‘Daffodils’ feature big, distorted, dubstep-esque keyboards alongside the horn section, and ‘Leaving Los Feliz’ features a sampled drum beat that could just as easily be the backing track to a Kanye West song.

All in all, this is a perfectly crafted pop album, and, based on Uptown Funk’s current chart reign, the fallout from this album with be massive, and will hopefully shift the focus back on to real music made by real people playing real instruments. That’d be nice. But until that day comes, I’ll happily play this album on constant repeat. Hot damn, indeed.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);