The boy from Hawaii has been all over the radio in the past 12 months, penning and producing a bundle of worldwide smashes for himself and a raft of others including Cee-Lo Green, B.o.B. and Travie McCoy. Let’s just say if he wanted to be a billionaire, this year will have done no harm to his bank balance. Mars’s talent for penning a tune is what shines through on this debut, coating every note and lyric. Doo-Wops & Hooligans breaks no new ground but ensures that every song is a tiny, perfectly formed pop tour de force…
When you think of Mars, you probably think of his love songs which are still dripping from every radio dial. When I interviewed Bruno a few months back, he revealed his songwriting secret: “I have four sisters and I write songs that will make them happy – pure and simple. I write songs based on what they’d like guys to say to them.” Think how many brownie points he scored with Just The Way You Are… So as well as slow love songs, there are the upbeat kind (Runaway) and the lolloping, Hawaii-beach type in Count On Me and Marry Me. If you fancy writing a modern-day heartfelt number, Mars has set the consistent standard.
Most of the tracks on this album feel familiar, even if you haven’t heard them before – such is the strength of the writing. From the killer opening salvo of Grenade and Just The Way You Are he segues into the 70s soul groove of Our First Time which is destined to become a lovers’ favourite. But Bruno is no one-trick pony, refusing to be classified as a slush-puppy. So Runaway sees the tracklist take a sharp left into Outkast territory; and Liquor Store Blues (with Damian Marley) sees Mars wading into reggae and sticky dub. Meanwhile, Closer To The Other Side ropes in mates Cee-Lo and B.o.B for a grandstand finish.
All told, this is slick opener from Mars – but did you really expect anything else? His growly tones are beautifully showcased, his energy jumps from the speakers and his charm is stamped onto every track. In a month when the wind whips through you, this is a welcome injection of sunshine to start the year.
Bruno Mars’ Doo-Wops & Hooligans is out on January 17th.