First Impressions: Bruno Mars Shows Tons Of Promise With His 'Doo-Wops'

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bruno Mars. That name sounds so familiar doesn't it? Mars just popped out of nowhere this year as being the token "don't bore us, get to the chorus" guy. His stints of guest starring on Travie McCoy's "Millionaire" and B.o.B's summer smash, "Nothin' On You" were quite lucrative. Yet, Mars was just on the warm-up exercises. He released, "Just The Way You Are", his first solo single, and even took time to write and produce another, the brilliant linguistics venom, "F**k You" for Cee-Lo. All this was done without a debut album (well, until today). He has racked up two #1 singles, a number of guest spots...and even got in some mugshot time. He's serious about this becoming a "star" stuff, isn't he? He hadn't even had an album out yet...well, until today. Mars' debut,  Doo-Wops & Hooligans drops in store today, and after Mars being a hit-making stunner most people are wondering if he is all hype and can't deliver as a solo artist...
Bruno Mars is physically the answer to everyone's withdrawal of Justin Timberlake. Don't roll your eyes. Don't lie. You liked FutureSex/LoveSounds. Doo-Wops is no FutureSex, but it's got some watered-down Justified vibes here and there with Mars' likable and harmonious tenor vocals splashing throughout. If I should be so bold, Mars is a great placeholder for those who can't stand Trey Songz, Chris Brown, or whatever Usher is trying to do right now. Or he can be an addition to that, if you're being polite. Most of Doo-Wops you have heard through leaks and three songs that derived from his EP, It's Better If You Don't Understand from earlier this year. Yet, nothing is real old hat, as we can tell how these pieces fit together to make the complete puzzle that Doo-Wops is.

Clocking in at only ten songs, the album has a a typical condensed pop debut album set-up, and is loaded with potential hits (see "Liquor Store Blues" and the driving "Runaway Baby"). It feels quite refreshing just to get through ten tightly produced tracks without feeling bombarded with so much experimental stuff, which is what some artists try to do just in case they don't get that second record. Be forewarned, Doo-Wops isn't for music snob and soul purists, it bubbles along on a saccharine sweet R&B and pop wave courtesy of production from The Smeezingtons. The album as a whole feels like you stepped back into time and are revisiting your awkward high school romance and unrequited loves through old journal/diary entries. It's eager, sweet, somewhat corny, partially amusing, and it of course entertaining. You get a surefire sugar shock, but if you're in the right mood, there are some really shining moments to showcase that Mars is indeed a promising talent and worth your while.

"Talking To The Moon", a track from the It's Better EP, continues to be the favorite as we really get to hear Mars' put his lyrics and his vocal chops in motion. Same can be said for the guitar strums 50's pop of "Count On Me", which gives Mars some acoustic room to wiggle. Another interesting entry is the romantic "Our First Time" doesn't beat around the bush in it's lush 80's slow jam or it's eager virginal message. The influence of Michael Jackson's ballads really peeks through on this with Mars playing like a mini-Robin Thicke.

I'm particularly fond of the Jason Mraz-esque "The Lazy Song", as it rolls on a breezy acoustic beat. As light n' fun as it is it features some insanely silly and well...lazy lyrics (“Loungin’ on my couch just chillin’ in my Snuggie/Click to MTV so they can teach me to Dougie” stands out because who in hell rhymes "Snuggie" with "Dougie"?).

Doo-Wops only problem is that it should have been released in mid-summer, not the beginning of October. It's poolside poetry with a side of top-down driving on a Saturday not giving a care vibe. As mentioned previously, this album feels like we're going on a first date with Mars, the getting to know you period and how eager and awkward you can be. Some will find the sweetness factor a little too much, as Mars plays more pop than soul, but considering that I have a chocolate soft serve for a heart, this album works for me.

Mars does show a lot of promise as a writer and and from live clips I've seen, he's quite the performer too, so Doo-Wops is clearly the beginning for Mars. Who knows where he'll be in three to five years? Hopefully, he can expand this sound (I'm sort of anxious to see if him and Cee-Lo will collaborate again, this time on a full-length album) by keeping it rooted in his simple, yet infectious style that is accessible in a number of musical genres. Well, only time will tell, but for now Mars can relax knowing that his debut is the pop delight of the year.     

Rating: 8.9/10 
Release Date: October 5, 2010

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