'Unorthodox Jukebox' doesn't disappoint

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bruno Mars, "Unorthdox Jukebox," Atlantic

There are very few musicians who sound like Bruno Mars. His voice lends itself well to pop music, though his tone has a unique, smooth soulful quality to it.

His latest album, "Unorthodox Jukebox," does not disappoint. It's ambitious, to be sure, but often the biggest risks have the best payouts.

What Mars does well, or what his producers do well, is match the smoothness of his voice with a driving beat, creating a juxtaposition that leaves the listener intrigued and wanting more. I loved how the beat changed in "Just the Way You Are" and I love it again in "Locked Out of Heaven." Some songs, no matter how often they're listened to, fail to get old.

Other musical gems include "Young Girls," "Gorilla," "Natalie."

That isn't to say, necessarily, that the other tracks aren't also worth listening to, only that they don't shine as well as the others.

"Treasure," for example, carries a retro-feel to it, reflecting back to earlier days in soul.

Mars slides across genres in a few tracks. "Show Me," most notably, has a reggae beat. "If I Knew," additionally, brings the listener back to an old jazz cabaret.

Despite some strong language, Mars excels once again with "Unorthodox Jukebox." Mars, raised in a musical family in Honolulu, Hawaii, came on the scene first as a song writer. He co-wrote hooks for "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B and "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, songs that also featured his vocals. "Just the Way You Are," off of his first album, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," earned him a Grammy.

"Unorthodox Jukebox" is his second album.

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