An album about friendship and swagger masquerading as a love album...

What if we had a band is a question that is not usually followed by the formation of a successful band. Friends who love music are rarely more than that. But Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are not normal friends. Five years after touring Europe together as part of Mars’ 24k Magic tour, the pair are now known together as Silk Sonic, and they invite you to spend some time with them on 'An Evening With Silk Sonic'.

Though the album’s rollout might have led a careful listener to believe this to be a love album – the three singles, 'Leave The Door Open', 'Skate', and 'Smokin Out The Window' are all soul inflected musical missives for an unnamed love interest – taken as part of the album, the best moments on the love songs are when the two artists finish each other’s thoughts and musically amplify them.

On the bridge for Skate .Paak opens up to the love interest: “I never fall, but tonight you got me fallin' for you / And only you, you.” And in case that language, or .Paak’s raspy delivery didn’t work for her, Mars follows up, crooning, “I'm reachin' out in hopes that you reach for me too.”

In his solo career, .Paak has been incapable of dropping an album without including at least one track that is meant to be blasted out of a convertible on the freeway, and he brings this sensibility to Silk Sonic on 'Fly As Me' and '777'. On an album dripping with big moments, the plucky bassline that propels 'Fly As Me' stands out, looping in your head long after you hit pause. Upon finishing the thirty-one-minute album, one is left with the image of a pair of close friends. Whether they are regretful, boastful, or just chilling, Mars and .Paak are there for each other, ready to groove.

The pair request on the album’s opener, 'Silk Sonic Intro', that you “don't have us lock this groove down for nothing.” That the groove will be locked down is never in question. Silk Sonic are gonna do what Silk Sonic are gonna do. The only question is whether you or the unnamed love interest are joining them. And you should. 'An Evening With Silk Sonic' is a real good time.

8/10

Words: Tani Levitt

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