Mark Ronson's sad bangers
Performed by a host of female collaborators, Mark Ronson explores the darker side of love.
Pop music – a nebulous term at best – often boils down to one idea: love. From the moment it takes root, to unbridled passion, decay and strife, the topic has dominated the top 40 charts ever since the 60s. It should have been no surprise when Mark Ronson released a 13 track collab album, focalized on the theme of … divorce. Perhaps as a nod to his own fate, he says he was “exhausted with trying to make irrefutably ebullient music”.
The DJ-become-mega-producer chose to work with nine different singers, amongst which Angel Olsen, Lykke Li, YEBBA, Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus. With such a diverse casting, it’s slightly difficult to picture a coherent final product, despite Ronson’s best intentions, who declared “This is the first time, probably, people should be excited to hear the entire album”.
His first record since Uptown Special (2015) certainly has a fistful of smash hits, and Late Night Feelings is one of them. Lykke Li’s vocals on the disco-lounge, 70s like single are playful and melancholic. The Swedish singer - mostly known in indie-pop circles – contemplates insomnia, desire and frustration: “I ask myself a million questions in the dark / I lay in silence, but silence talks”. Post-breakup anxiety and the Anglo-American’s retro beats carry on to True Blue, with Angel Olsen. The indie rock star’s haunting voice is backed by a sultry beat and guitars so drenched in reverb you wonder if they were ever there in the first place, owing as much to Abba as to The Alarm; the track stands out as one of the most fleshed out as well as somber on the album.
However, first place unequivocally belongs to Miley Cyrus, on Nothing Breaks Like A Heart. The superstar’s biggest hit since Wrecking Ball in 2013 combines country, dance beats and lo-fi violins in the best sad banger yet. Owing as much to contemporary pop music as to Dolly Parton, it is a masterful tale of the pain, resignation and indifference in the wake of a relationship.
A few other songs, such as Knock Knock Knock feat. YEBBA or Find You Again feat. Camila Cabelo are slightly off mark when it comes to production. The result is an inconsistent yet addictive album.
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