Establishing himself as the unparalleled star of other artist’s tunes, notably on Travie McCoy’s ‘Billionaire’ and B.o.B’s ‘Nothin’ on You,’ Bruno Mars shot to fame last year, before stunning everyone with his first solo single ‘Just The Way You Are.’ The problem with Doo-Woops & Hooligans, Hawaiian-born Mars’ debut album, is hype: everyone, myself included, expected this to be amazing, given the astounding quality of his first solo hit. Don’t get me wrong: this album is good, at times, even great – the tunes are all well-written, generally upbeat and pretty chilled. But nothing quite matches up to the staggering heights of ‘Just the Way You Are.’
The record opens with Mars’ latest single ‘Grenade’; I have to say, I find Bruno’s keenness to be blown up/shot/run over by a train for his lady-friend just a bit disconcerting. He’s clearly a talented song writer, but for me, this song just doesn’t work nearly as well as the following track, and of course, lead tune, ‘Just the Way You Are.’ It’s a song of breathtaking beauty – a brilliantly simple piano melody, backed by drumming that mimics the sound of a heartbeat. It’s the most romantic tune I’ve heard in years; a remarkably written track which proves a good remedy to the huge quantity of vacuous pop music out there.
‘Marry You’ is incredibly catchy and generally a really fun, danceable tune. ‘Runaway Baby’ is another cheerful tune, extremely bouncy, and likely to be one of his next singles. ‘Talking to the Moon’ is a sweet, reflective little tune and he sounds fantastic (although the acoustic piano version included as an “extra” sounds ridiculously similar to the original version). ‘Liquor Store Blues,’ featuring Damian Marley, draws on reggae beats, and it’s pretty decent, but from here on, the album starts to sink as the songs start to blend in to one another. ‘Count on Me’ is a lame addition to the record; lyrics like “you can count on me, like one, two, three” are pretty cringe-worth, Mr Mars. His collaboration with Cee-Loo Green is, unfortunately, uninspired; they both have great voices and are talented songwriters, but this tune falls flat. The final tune, ‘Somewhere in Brooklyn’ is, in a word, rubbish – the beats are lazy and lyrics box-tickingly unoriginal.
Doo-Wops & Hooligans suffers from some bad pacing. It seems to happen quite often that all the singles are pushed to the front end of a record, which means listening to the album all the way through can be an unsatisfying experience if those at the back are simply filler. It’s also a shame he couldn’t include either of the songs with B.o.B and Travie McCoy. Unfortunately, Doo-Wops & Hooligans seems to be a way to get the singles (packaged as a complete entity) out to the market as quickly as possible. Bruno Mars is an extremely talented guy, and with a little more time, I reckon this album could have been an absolute masterpiece. As a result of the studio cashing in on his sudden success, the album is a let-down.
Good: A handful of songs are brilliant, and his voice is consistently superb.
Bad: The back half of the album could have been chopped and you wouldn’t really miss it