Loads packed into 42 minutes
As a Hawaiian, Bruno Mars could have filled his debut with Jack Johnson-esque ukulele melodies and island vibes. But the 25-year-old is clearly more ambitious than that. Having written and produced for fellow 2011 Grammy nominees Cee-Lo Green and BoB, he knows his skills. He has filled Doo-Wops and Hooligans with a range of genres.
He kicks off with Grenade, a dancefloor-filler detailing the extreme lengths he would go to for the unworthy woman he's in love with. His scratchy, plaintive voice works particularly well here. Throughout the album, what might sound whiny in person is well balanced by layers of piano, drums and synth.
Lead single Just the Way You Are has been nominated for this year's Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy - and with good reason. It's a feel-good track when it comes to both melody and theme.
Runaway Baby is an uptempo rock song that could have come from the N.E.R.D. studio - it's funky and fast with a dirty bassline and an OutKast-like chorus.
Bruno experiments with reggae on the melancholy Liquor Store Blues, with some help from Damian Marley, son of reggae legend Bob. Reggae seems to be the flavour of the moment, but Mars manages to stay true to the genre and himself (compare Shane Ward's lamentable Nobody Knows).
Aside from a couple of hiccups, like the overly slushy Marry You and The Lazy Song, which would've been better coming from Jason Mraz, this is an excellent, if short, debut that hints at greatness yet to come.