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This album surprised me; not for the quality but how different it was from Mars’ last album “Doo-wops & Hooligans”. Mars himself stated he had much more creative freedom and input into this album and it certainly shows throughout. There is a 1980’s element in the majority of the album, which is either a love it or hate it kind of thing. There are heavy synthesisers in most of the songs and heavy rhythmic beats which makes idyllic pop music.
The album is filled with dramatic lyrics, either about girls, drugs or rock and roll. Bruno Mars really gets to the heart of things with raw explicit lyrics in ‘Gorilla’, where he talks about his time of being caught with drugs. And then in the piano ballad ‘When I was your Man’ he has raw emotion in his vocals and cutting lyrics which would make anyone with a heart tear up a little, as Mars croons about an old flame. ‘Natalie’, which is also about the pain he goes through with another girl, which has echoing and daunting drum beats that make the music sound serious and quite melancholy.
It’s refreshing to hear a lot of reggae in songs such as the upbeat ‘Locked out of Heaven’ and ‘Show Me’, which you don’t hear much of today. Like the majority of artists today Mars’ incorporates lots of synthesisers but differently puts an 80’s twist on songs such as ‘Money Make her Smile’, ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Treasure’. The use of guitar to create rhythms in ‘If I Knew’ sounds like revived old-school R&B, and the use of funk in the bass in ‘Treasure’ brings elements of rock and old-school alive in the album. No other current pop star but Mars, with his great soulful vocals, could pull off using such a varied array of music. The mix of slow ballads and floor-fillers are great, but I would say the majority of the music on the album would be for chilling out to.
There is no way you could put this album into one genre; the eclectic mix of styles is so varied that you have to give credit to Bruno Mars for his creativity and making it so different from the majority of what is in today’s market of music. The 80’s style I wasn’t so keen on but overall the darker lyrics of this album and the variety of reggae, rock, 80’s, soul and R&B is something you will rarely hear on one album today. The tunes ‘Locked out of Heaven’ and ‘Treasure’ are personal favourites for their upbeat tones and their funky beats; it’s a nice change from the monotonous electronic music pop artists of today make. Admittedly I wasn’t keen on this pop experimental album when I first heard it but when you re-listen to the lyrics and appreciate the different types of music he has going on it is a good easy listening album.