Review: Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings
Sometimes a simple phrase captures the public imagination. Think of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling”, or Dominic Cummings’ “Take back control”.
To these, add “sad bangers”, which Mark Ronson’s used to describe the contents of Late Night Feelings. If anyone can pull off such a seductive contradiction, it’s a producer as famous as the stars with whom he works.
Wonderfully, his fifth album’s two lead singles suit the terminology. Nothing Breaks Like A Heart unexpectedly exploits Miley Cyrus’ Tennessee twang to reinvent Dolly Parton’s Jolene for the clubbing generation, and the title track showcases Lykke Li’s sorrowful vocal to update 1970s disco.
Lykke smoulders, too, on the poignant 2am, but too much elsewhere depends upon Ronson’s choice of singer, and, of course, their hooks.
At times, his decisions are mystifying. Find U Again has US X Factor graduate Camila Cabello slurring in what one assumes is meant to be a sexy manner, but instead she sounds tipsy. When her auto-tuned vocal addresses attempts to replace a lover, it’s hard to decide whether “they don’t have a shower so I’ll come back to you” or “they don’t have a shot when I compare ‘em to you”.
Similarly, upcoming Arkansawyer YEBBA crops up on three consecutive tracks with mixed results. Her attention-grabbing Minnie Riperton mimicry twists itself efficiently around Knock Knock Knock’s slippery bassline, but her melismatic style is less distinctive on Don’t Leave Me Lonely’s anonymous soul, while When U Went Away, on which she could be a laughing witch, is mercifully brief.
Ilsey Juber, too, makes little impression on Spinning, a subdued, aimless closer, but Angel Olsen’s gloomy vocal is layered over a Running Up That Hill rhythm with notable success, while Diana Gordon offers relief with a measured contribution to Why Hide. Even better is Truth, with Alicia Keys yelping over a kickass groove, and Pieces Of Us’ ravishing 80s soul, where King Princess blends wit and sincerity.
So sometimes they’re sad, and other times they’re bangers, but occasionally these Late Night Feelings are a little underwhelming.
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