Using an eclectic blend of powerful female guest vocals and shimmering disco production, Mark Ronson’s latest album is the ideal epitome of it’s title; fitting the crying in the club aesthetic it was designed for. Late Night Feelings is a pop heartbreak album for melancholy slow dancing, an unapologetic good time in the face of emotional adversity.
Mark Ronson is perhaps best known these days for Uptown Funk, the transcendent soulful disco smash hit that dominated the airwaves for what felt like an eternity. He’s a superstar producer with a remarkable ear for music, being influenced from a wide variety of musical eras including swing and early disco. His newest album Late Night Feelings is his first studio project since 2015’s Uptown Special, and the change of pace and direction is evident.
Calling on a who’s who of some of the trendiest and most popular female singers of the modern era, Ronson went into the production of this album with the intention of making “sad bangers” that could make people cry and dance simultaneously. It was a standout concept and one which needed guest stars whose presence was large enough to fit the bill; something Ronson achieved on multiple fronts. Adopting the help of the likes of Camila Cabello, Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus gave their respective songs a star power and a necessity, while the involvement of Lykke Li, King Princess and Angel Olsen gave off an aurora of empowerment and introspection.
“Too many cooks spoil the broth” is a saying coined quite often when a producer creates an album with many different featured artists, but this certainly isn’t the case on Late Night Feelings. Each guest brings something new to the table, namely their glistening artistic personalities and a keen sense of variety that somehow manages to strike the difficult balance of variety and cohesion. It’s never too much of the same stuff, but it’s also far from being too scattered; all the song ideas are unique but the grand message remains constant.
Ronson himself is on absolute fire here in terms of instrumentation and setting the tone. His production is naturally funky and slick, as is to be expected from a man of his talents, but there’s a real sincerity to the beats he puts together here; allowing for each song to tell it’s own story of dealing with heartache by snapping your fingers and shuffling your feet. In particular, the gorgeous bass riffs on Pieces of Us and True Blue become more and more infectious with every listen, and the orchestral arrangements twinned with modern electronics on tracks like Nothing Breaks Like A Heart loop in your head for days after listening.
When you’re at the level of fame and boast the accolades that Mark Ronson has in his career, you wouldn’t begrudge him for perhaps resting on his laurels and releasing a safe album with a few obvious hits on it. Late Night Feelings has dared to be different and feels very celebratory in a way, intertwining the universal feelings of heartbreak and dancing the night away as a source of distraction. It is a wonderfully enjoyable and forward-thinking release that might just be one of the standout pop albums of 2019 so far; I can envisage many a Late Night Feeling listening to this one in the years to come.