5 December, 2010@3:00 pm
When Mark Ronson first stepped on the scene, it was easy to dismiss him as “the guy from Foreigner’s kid”. After all, showbiz is filled with nepotism, and time after time we’ve seen famous people put their less talented relatives on. In Mark’s case, talent runs in the family, as he has proven over and over again, whether producing Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black LP, giving beats to Nas, or delivering ridiculously listenable covers of Britney Spears tracks. With his latest album, Record Collection, his stride of consistency hasn’t broken.
Unlike his last LP, Version, Ronson’s latest is a collection of all new material. Also different this time around is the abandonment of a funk-soul backing band, as this album’s sound is a bit of a combination of raw hip-hop drum breaks and an almost folky British pop sound. Vocally, most each track meshes whimsically sung lyrics with aggressively rapped ones; it’s a bit like that N.A.S.A. record from last year, but good.
The album starts of with a bang – make that three of them – with “Bang Bang Bang”, an instantly addictive, melodic collaboration that combines the indie cool of MNDR with the classic voice of Q-Tip. The track instantly brings back Tip on his Tribe shit, but in a whole different way. Making sure to not lose your attention, the Ghostface featured “Lose It (In The End)” follows, with a brilliantly juxtaposed team-up of Tony Starks’ bravado and Alex Greenwald’s light-hearted melodies.
While Spank Rock and Pill help round out “The Bike Song” and “Introducing The Business” respectively, the rap vocals ultimately are secondary to the sung ones, and after a few listens to the LP, you aren’t even concerned with who’s performing, just how good it sounds. Songs like “You Gave Me Nothing” (feat. Rose Elinor Dougall and Andrew Wyatt) as well as “Record Collection” (feat. Simon LeBon of Duran Duran and Wiley) are so infectious, eventually the open minded hip-hop listener isn’t concerned with whether or not there’s a rapper involved. And oh yeah, D’Angelo appears on “Glass Mountain Trust”, killing shit.
Packed in between Ronson’s always eclectic guest list are a handful of instrumental tracks, many which find Ronson going for an almost RJD2-esque sound. Some of these are lo-fi interludes (“The Colour of Crumar”, “Selector”), as if Ronson is testing the waters, almost asking his audience if we’ll accept him as an instrumentalist. He proves himself in full on “Circuit Breaker”, a breakbeat driven tour-de-force, suggesting the prospect of an instrumental based LP might not be such a bad idea.
While Ronson uses many of the same collaborators as in times past (Alex Greenwald, Q-Tip, Ghostface), he flips the script on the full-length LP, not settling for creating the same LP over and over again. With a diverse palette of musicians joining him, Ronson somehow manages to create a cohesive LP – one that sounds totally different from what he’s done in the past – but somehow without alienating his core fanbase. Yes, talent runs in the family.
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