Release Date: Jun 21, 2019
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Pop-Rap
Those expecting endless iterations of 2015 hit "Uptown Funk" with Late Night Feelings will come away disappointed. Or maybe not — as a producer, Mark Ronson is a top-tier craftsman and curator when it comes to maintaining attention. His fifth studio project functions as catharsis; a recent divorce and subsequent depression left Ronson in his feelings. For those only figuring out that Ronson has been doing his UK-meets-NYC blend of pop, soul and hip-hop (with subtle and distinctive notes of new wave and punk) for a while now might glom ….
Ever since his breakthrough with 2007's 'Version', Mark Ronson's career has been fairly un-pigeonhole-able. There's no-one else, let's face it, whose name is credited on albums by both Adele and Black Lips. It's why, though logic might expect him to follow up the mammoth success of 'Shallow' with another stab at the stratosphere, it actually makes far more sense in Ronson-world to deliver 'Late Night Feelings': his most emotive, personal album to date, chock full of subtle, sad bops and wistful nuance.
Ronson's fifth album of "sad bangers" is a mixed bag of brilliant pop songs and sleepy filler tracks Sometimes a pop song makes you sit up and think "holy shit, that’s good". They're the pop songs that even your cooler-than-thou mate who only listens to mumble-rappers with fewer than 100 followers on Soundcloud likes as well. Songs that you go back to years later, and wonder why you're not still listening to them daily.
Mark Ronson made himself vulnerable to new accusations of opportunistic conceptual thievery when he described his fifth album, released within proximity of Steps' Tears on the Dancefloor and Camilo Cabello's "Crying in the Club," as "sad bangers." In the producer's defense, the direction he took here isn't a trend chase. The mode goes back generations, even long before Ronson's childhood, when commercial airwaves were pumping out enough aching jams to make a series of mixtapes titled DX7s & Distress. Unlike most of the contemporary artists who use the c-word when promoting a new album, Ronson sees his concept all the way through.
The artist Audrey Wollen, best known as the creator of Sad Girl Theory, has long argued for the radical potential of feminine sorrow. Rather than weakness to be purged, Wollen sees a sturdy foundation for collective action. "Feminism should acknowledge that being a girl in this world is really hard, one of the hardest things there is," Wollen said, in a 2015 interview.
'Late Night Feelings' does exactly what it says on the tin, as it elicits reminiscent feelings of past affairs and heartbreaks over the course of the album. Simply lie back, dim the lights and listen alone, as a sense of longing shrouds you in a haze, and memories of lost loves lazily float to the surface. Aptly described as a collection of "sad bangers", the project is a series of lyrically heart-wrenching tunes backed with powerful beats and complex guitars, plus a touch of Mark Ronson's infamously eclectic mix of sounds and effects.
E arlier this year, Mark Ronson lamented the state of modern pop in a Guardian interview, saying songs are currently produced to sound "as loud as possible coming out of an iPhone". His new album duly feels like a pop album of old, centred around some truly excellent singles, and padded with filler. It's worth celebrating the two lead singles again: Nothing Breaks Like a Heart sets out the album's stall, of "sad bangers" to cry to on the dancefloor: a masterfully produced chimera of Jolene and Fleetwood Mac's Big Love.