His latest album honors musical freedom and individuality. Producers from different backgrounds such as Jeff Hasker, Benny Blanco, Diplo, and even jazz musician Esperanza Spalding, helped Mars’ Grammy nominated production team, The Smeezingtons (Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine), create an eclectic presentation. He was further inspired by the late Amy Winehouse, who won 5 Grammys (including album of the year) for her 2007 album: Back to Black.
“You couldn’t put in a box,” Mars told a website when describing the impact of Black to Black. “I’ve always wanted to make music like that - that could be spread out.”
The start of his album features his first two singles that contrast each other while providing new sounds. Soft ballad “Young Girls” is a sweet sounding death by torture from flings, but “Locked Out Of Heaven” provides energy through a reggae rock sound reminiscent of The Police that introduces a commonly reoccurring topic in this album: sex. This is reinforced in “Gorilla”, appropriately titled for it’s reference to animalistic sex. “Treasure” brings back 70s and 80s guitar riffs to make a disco infused electronic sound resemblant of Prince, Wham!, and even Daft Punk. The general shift in topics happens after “Moonshine”, a song with a masked reference to women. A very sincere Mars is revealed with “When I Was Your Man”, a piano ballad with a soap opera twist in lyrics. While songs like “Natalie” and “Money Make Her Smile” have a dark and revengeful mood against women who ran off with his money after a fling, “Show Me” is the easy sounding reggae break in dark thoughts. The album concludes with “If I Knew”, the final shift in sounds that fittingly goes back to his Doo-Wop days.
Initially, this album seems shallow as it is a collection of different genres that Mars takes interest in when writing about girls and sex. Although this album is an eclectic mix with reoccurring topics, it won’t do justice to consider Mars a washed out Las Vegas variety show singer. Mars’ soulful voice and intriguing lyrics are not absent from this album. That being said, it still doesn’t go without saying that Mars spread his efforts in making a good album a bit too thin. Few songs off the album could match the energy, flavorful range in sound, and artistic creativity that chart topper “Locked Out Of Heaven” has. Every genre presented in this album was satisfying, but not necessarily outstanding.
With such variety that Mars displays in musical endeavors towards experimenting with different styles of sound, it’s hard to be disappointed in this album. Even with the introduction of new sounds to his catalogue of work, Mars as an individual never strayed away from any song. His universal touch of intriguing lyricism, solid production, and soulful vibratos, will satisfy fans of various backgrounds.