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Album review: Bruno Mars, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans"

Bruno Mars, 2010. (Evan Agostini/MTV/PictureGroup)

By Sean Fennessey

We can’t be sure, but Bruno Mars might be an android. The Hawaii-born singer-songwriter-producer-pop terror was unleashed onto the world this year, like a future-sent cyborg come to swallow the Billboard charts whole. In February, B.o.B’s syrupy “Nothin’ On You” premiered and rocketed to the top of the charts. Then Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” did the same in March. Bruno’s “Just the Way You Are” — included here on his debut — took off in July. In August, an unprintable kiss-off by Cee-Lo became a viral phenomenon. Mars and his production team, the preposterously named Smeezingtons, have had a hand in all of those songs. It’s all happening so fast — who will stop this Terminator?

We ask because “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” indicates that Mars (real name: Peter Hernandez), treacle though his songs may be, appears primed for a durable career.
This is a short album, with just 10 songs, but it is effortlessly tuneful — the songs often sound as if they have been written on the spot, a quality that is both endearing and damning. “I be loungin’ on the couch just chillin’ in my Snuggie/click to MTV so they can teach me how to Dougie,” he sings on “The Lazy Song.” Mars mixes influences both august (Michael Jackson’s wounded tenor is a huge influence) and contemporary (Jason Mraz’s lackadaisical pop is a not-too-distant cousin).

Still, Mars is a melodic savant, a preternatural possessor of stickiness. The high-concept drama “The Other Side,” a reunion with Cee-Lo and B.9o.9B, is the last and best song on this album, and it is a song that could win in any era: past, present and, yes, even a dystopian future.

Recommended Tracks:
“The Other Side,” “Grenade”

By The Reliable Source  | October 5, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Album reviews  | Tags:  bruno mars  
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Next: Album review: Marnie Stern, "Marnie Stern (Self Titled)"

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