It seems Mark Ronson has once again reinvented himself. With his fourth studio album, Uptown Special, Ronson turns away from the electro-pop sounds of Record Collection, cruising down the avenue of American blues, funk and soul.
Capturing snapshots of an extraordinarily diverse culture, Ronson produces a fluid concoction of meandering melodies and off-beat bass riffs to create an album that is original yet grounded in a rich musical tradition. The infectious and swaggering quality of Ronson’s latest soundtrack is, therefore, truly admirable. However, accompanying these electric vibes is a fear that Uptown Special, like its predecessors, will be overshadowed by the astronomical success of its incredible lead singles – in this case ‘Uptown Funk’ and ‘Feel Right’. Yet Ronson masterfully manages to hold our attention until the final synth notes of ‘Crack in the Pearl, Pt. II’ die away, teasing us to repeat this forty minute funk-filled joy ride. Appearances from Bruno Mars, Andrew Wyatt and Stevie Wonder add to the unique authenticity that Uptown Special parades with deserved arrogance.
Uptown Special challenges us to the impossible: to stay static for more than five seconds. As Mystikal aggressively states “It’s exercise with thighs and hip muscles”, the music invades your body and controls the beat of your heart with unparalleled ease until your every bone dances with uncontrolled ecstasy. Few modern albums carry this persuasive ability to inspire movement, a testimony to the nostalgic brilliance of Ronson’s song writing. In short, Uptown Special funks you up.