Review: Bruno Mars, 'Unorthodox Jukebox' On his second album, Unorthodox Jukebox, Mars traverses the pop landscape, pulling in far-flung influences and making them his own.
NPR logo

Bruno Mars Goes Anyplace And Everyplace On 'Jukebox'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/166964985/167000580" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Bruno Mars Goes Anyplace And Everyplace On 'Jukebox'

Review

Music Reviews

Bruno Mars Goes Anyplace And Everyplace On 'Jukebox'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/166964985/167000580" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It took just one album and some cameo appearances for singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Bruno Mars to establish himself as an elite pop talent. His long awaited second album, "Unorthodox Jukebox," has just been released, and critic Tom Moon says it tears through a range of musical styles with dizzying energy.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: I became a Bruno Mars fan in about 60 seconds. It happened in the car, listening to this song from his first album on the radio. One time through the refrain and I was hooked.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRENADE")

MOON: Like a lot of people, I was curious to see where this guy would go next. The answer, according to "Unorthodox Jukebox," any place and every place.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOCKED OUT OF HEAVEN")

MOON: That little dose of pop euphoria makes everything else on the radio right now seem drab by comparison. Of course, those alive in the 1980s may hear this Bruno Mars single as an uncanny imitation of the Police. Mars is a student of the pop hook and a degree of emulation is part of his game. He can write a tune that borrows in a big way from Stevie Wonder, or Maroon 5, or Prince and still somehow sound like himself.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOONSHINE")

MOON: In interviews, Bruno Mars talks about his appetite for all kinds of music, how he doesn't like to be pinned down. "Unorthodox Jukebox" illustrates this. There's a sexy disco send-up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TREASURE")

MOON: A skittering electro fantasy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NATALIE")

MOON: And this thumping pop anthem.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUNG GIRLS")

MOON: Not everything on the new Bruno Mars is brilliant. On several tunes, the lyrics amount to running status updates of his carnal whims and desires. At times, it seems his skills as a composer might not be as fully developed as his wickedly expressive singing. But even then, it's clear that Mars has crazy potential. Maybe he'll harness it differently on some project in the future and settle into one lane on the expressway.

Right now, he's all over the road. And, for the most part, it's a fun ride.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONEY MAKE HER SMILE")

CORNISH: Critic Tom Moon reviewing the new album from Bruno Mars, it's called "Unorthodox Jukebox."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONEY MAKE HER SMILE")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.