Monday, August 16th, 2021

Silk Sonic – Skate

Our door’s definitely open for this one, boys.


Alex Clifton: The only bad thing about this song is that this wasn’t released a couple months ago to become the official Song of the Summer 2021. It’s perfect — infectious, sunny, fun, never wearing out its welcome. I’m obsessed with how easily Bruno and Anderson’s voices glide over those strings, performing some impressive skate tricks of their own. It’s a glorious moment of pure happiness and one that will keep me smiling for the rest of the year.

Nortey Dowuona: Look, Bruno Mars needs to actually find his own style. Anderson. Paak does this retro 70s pop jam perfectly and sounds wonderful, his wispy, scratchy voice wriggling across the mix and binding it tightly and thoroughly. But Bruno’s over-rehearsed, inflexible voice just pushes the mix out and scatters the disparate instruments, only with Anderson bringing it back together patiently beneath him, only for Mars to scatter them again. At a point, Bruno needs to actually create a compelling aesthetic rather than doing a poorly put together version of Sinatra does Slave deep cuts and let Anderson create these warm, fuzzy 70’s style throwbacks alone — or at  least with a far deeper and more lithe vocalist than him.

Mark Sinker: Philly Soul hits a kind of sweet-spot deadzone in my music brain, where it’s somehow perfect enough and classic enough that I really don’t know what to say about it beyond naming it. The one element that stands out sideways here is how disco-girl skating is treated as a subject for a song: not as novelty cash-in for trashy passing fad (the likely approach in say 1976-77) but as a full-bodied invocation of the casual colour of the air and the feel of times (the approach here). And when I say novelty cash-in, what would have nixed it as a concept from any major player is concern about the integrity of smooth production-line branding. So in a funny way, far from being an anachronism, this pastiche gets at something that was already there on the dancefloor but not in any groove for several years.

Thomas Inskeep: What Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk!” was for early ’80s R&B pastiche, Mars and Anderson .Paak’s Silk Sonic collaboration is, across two singles, for the ’70s. And it sounds gorgeous. The two sound great together, in perfect harmony in every way, really; I’ve not got a single negative thing to say about this.

Alfred Soto: The delight I hear in the voices isn’t cynical. If Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars thought, “Look at what we got away with!” it’s more a quiet disbelief that they did get away with it. The “it” is a Thom Bell pastiche so immersed in the period elements that it ceases being pastiche: it’s updated Philly soul by master magpies. Mars rolls and rides, floats and glides: the it’s-3 a.m.-on-cocaine rasp that often repelled me works here. I docked it a notch because I’d rather hear this sort of thing from Raphael Saadiq, only his singles ain’t getting on Y-100 and I wonder why. 

Andrew Karpan: The real keeper here is when Mr. Mars compares thee to a summer’s barbecue, a striking image that comes in the midst of a study of summer whose nostalgia is not so much its point as its very medium. It’s cynical to call it a past that was not actually lived but bought and professionally upholstered, but I don’t think the absence of authenticity is all that bad and, in fact, its absence is what makes it interesting, giving its gestures the very kind of theatrical grace they aim for. Floating, sliding and ultimately skating, listening to “Skate” was like waking up from a vivid dream with a strange smile, remembering nothing.

Edward Okulicz: Yet another weightless, effortless wedding party banger from the only man who bothers, and a much better use of Bruno and .Paak’s collective experience and talent than the kind of meh “Leave the Door Open.” As a bit of radio confection, this kicks ass, and I am scoring it accordingly. If instead of being a pop song it was a figure ice skating routine, I would also score it highly. If it was one of those disciplines where they award points based on difficulty, I wouldn’t be so impressed, because these guys have repeatedly demonstrated that the elements of this could be done in their collective sleep. But it’s big fun and big grins from start to finish anyway.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: My mom really likes this and who am I to disagree?

Reader average: [5] (5 votes)

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