Late Night Feelings
BOTTOM LINE The “Uptown Funk” mastermind delivers some downtown club grooves
Mark Ronson’s effect on how pop music sounds goes well beyond the monster hit “Uptown Funk,” from his production work with Amy Winehouse and Adele to co-writing the Oscar-winning “Shallow” with Lady Gaga.
But on his new album “Late Night Feelings” (RCA), Ronson doesn’t expand pop’s sonic palette the way he has in the past. For this album, Ronson narrows his sound, lining up one great female vocalist after another to deliver what he calls “sad bangers,” melancholy you can dance to.
Lykke Li sets the tone for “Late Night Feelings” on the title track, as she coos over a disco backdrop. Desperation sets in on the bridge, when it slows to half time, as if she stopped to think about her situation, before the beat picks up again, like she’s decided to dance her problems away.
Ronson goes to that idea again and again, balancing regrets with irresistible grooves. Camila Cabello’s laments of “It’s too late” make the delicate synth-pop on the catchy “Find U Again” even more poignant, especially when she cutely reveals going to therapy twice a week. King Princess may be the biggest revelation on the album, with the gorgeous “Pieces of Us,” that pairs her soulful worries that “Now all I got is pieces of us” with the late-'80s R&B groove that Bruno Mars captured on “24K Magic.” Alicia Keys also taps into that vibe on the sleek “Truth,” with Portland rapper The Last Artful, Dodgr providing some much-needed edge.
There are times on “Late Night Feelings” where maintaining the groove takes precedence over sharpening a song’s distinctive features, even keeping Miley Cyrus in line on “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart,” but that does keep the “sad banger” feel intact. In the end, Ronson succeeds in making “Late Night Feelings” a collection of dark, danceable moments that all fit together.
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