It's no secret that I love Bruno Mars' music, and his newest album, Unorthodox Jukebox, is no exception; it sounds as if Mars has finally found solid ground on which to stand with his competing compositions and diverse set of musical influences. Mars does have a tendency to jump from one genre to the next on this album, but he does so seamlessly and the songs are written and composed so wonderfully that the album seems to thrive off of this genre non-specificity.
"Young Girls" may be my favorite song from the album, and has been since it was released as a single (if you could not tell from my overuse of the song in various playlists). The lyrics are great, the composition is amazing, and, as always, Mars voice flows perfectly over that harmony to create that rich melody we all crave so much in our music.
"Locked Out of Heaven" has a composition that instantly distinguished this first single from any other song on his first album and showed how much this artist has grown since Doo-Wops & Hooligans. The lyrics are classic Mars and the catchy beat and chorus just beg to be played on repeat.
"Gorilla" is a song that only Mars could sing; with lyrics like "you've got your legs up in the sky, with the devil in your eyes" and "you and me, making love like gorillas," Mars is the only artist who could pull off the song perfectly with his crooning voice, great back beats, and his altogether inoffensive appearance (he's only 5'5" and his face does not look intimidating).
"Treasure" is the only song that could follow "Gorilla" on the album. It has a great '70's sound that makes these lyrics even better; that great voice over-esque intro and a composition which sounds reminiscent of disco manage to keep lyrics like "treasure, that is what you are, honey you're my golden star" from getting too sweet.
"Moonshine" starts off as a slow song, sounding slightly uninspired in comparison to the previous songs on this album. The lyrics manage to stay great though and, eventually, that composition follows suit and, by the time the song reaches the bridge (at about 2:25), it has become just as great as the other songs on the album.
"When I Was Your Man" may be the most heartbreaking song on Mars' new album and makes the entire album all the more wonderful. Lyrics like "too young, too dumb, to realize, that I should have...held your hand" and "take you to every party cause all you wanted to do was dance, now...she's dancing with another man" show a vulnerable side of Mars which only seems to come out when he is recording his best songs.
"Natalie" has a "Rumour Has It"-esque beat with fast-paced vocals and lyrics that stand out in stark contrast to the previous songs on this album ("she better sleep with one eye open...cause once I get my hands on her, imma ooohh"). A song promising revenge (at any length; "I'll spend a lifetime in jail, I'll be smiling in my cell") is a new sound for Bruno Mars, and it's great; I cannot wait to see how this sound evolves and represents itself on his next album.
"Show Me" has a reggae sound which sounds completely out of place on this album, yet somehow works. The song is sandwiched between the only songs that could tie it in (lyrically) to the rest of the album and, even if the sound is far removed from Mars usual compositions, we probably should have guessed that a song like this was coming after the presence of "Our First Time" and "Liquor Store Blues" on the last album. The sound is a little discordant with the general theme of the album, but it does do a great job of showcasing Mars' voice with minimal instrumentation to support his vocals.
"Money Make Her Smile" is just a fun song to listen to (on repeat). You can hear a bit of a Michael Jackson influence in the instrumentation and vocals, but those back beats, vocal loops, and accusatory lyrics make this song sound great. It's another new sound from Bruno Mars that perfectly mixes his crooning voice and throwback compositions with great back beats and vocal loops (a new composition style for Mars') and it comes out sounding fantastic.
"If I Knew" closes the album with Mars' usual style, relying heavily on his own vocal abilities, minimal instrumentation, and lyrics that are unapologetically sweet with a composition that complements them perfectly. It just sounds like the 'last song of the night' and is the perfect way to end this album; it may be slow and a little sad, but it's a great song and seems to promise more great music to come.
With songs like "Natalie" and "Young Girls" sounding so much more mature than "Grenade" and "Runaway Baby" (in both the lyrics and the compositions), this album shows how much Mars has grown as an artist in two short years and only makes me more excited to see what he can create by 2014. Buy Unorthodox Jukebox because it only gets better the more you listen to it and each song is just as great as the last.