Bruno Mars, the name about a year or so ago conjured up an image of a neighbouring planets alien boxer. However, we very well know him to be the singer/songwriter/producer who is blazing himself a trail in the world of pop music. His debut album Doo Wops & Hooligans weighs in at only 10 tracks heavy, a suitable expansion on his single and featuring offerings to date.
On the whole, I found the album slightly underwhelming and although there were good pop offerings, I found it lacked depth and was a middle of the road and slightly ‘safe’ album. I did however find refreshing the lack of lazer type synths and the fact that there were well written songs on there, that were quite clearly crafted from the bottom up, as opposed to being based around production.
‘Just The Way You Are,’ the number one single and overly sentimental teen girls favourite song, has great pop sensibility, however I still can’t stop singing Alicia Keys’ ‘Doesn’t Mean Anything’ over the chorus. ‘Grenade’ seemed too similar in production to ‘JTWYA’, however worked nicely in the context of the album.
Above: Bruno Mars performs “Grenade” for Billboard’s Tastemakers series, live at Mophonics Studios NY.
Bruno Mars explores reggae on ‘Our First Time,’ which sounds like it was written after having listened to Prince, Robin Thicke and Drake on shuffle. The Caribbean flavour is once again revived on ‘Liquor Store Blues,’ featuring Damian Marley, however even the guest couldn’t move me on this occasion.
‘Runaway Baby’ borders on Punk, however feels too polished and lacking in a little depth. ‘Talking To The Moon,’ explores a Coldplay type composition and was elegant in it’s production and arrangement.
Where Bruno Mars fell down in my eyes was on ‘The Lazy Song’ and ‘Marry You.’ The former sounded like it was written in a California beach house and should be featured in a TV series montage. The latter was a nonchalant approach to nuptial agreements, but I take issue with some of the melodies and lyrics (‘Shots of Patrone’) being misplaced and would be more fitting of an R&B song.
On the upside, ‘Count On Me’ was a very well written song with a pulled back arrangement, which gave breathing space on the album. It was signature Bruno Mars. Album closer ‘The Other Side’ featuring previous collaborators Cee-Lo and B.o.B had to be my favourite cut on the album, exploring a pleasant soundscape contrasting with the rest of the album – and it didn’t hurt that Cee-Lo sounded as great as ever.
Overall, a promising artist and a breath of fresh air to a seemingly stale Pop industry, it’s well worth keeping an eye out for Bruno Mars in the future.