It’s hard to believe Bruno Mars is just releasing his sophomore album. For a guy who’s still relatively new to the game, Bruno has HITS for days! Seriously. It’s something about the little guy wearing the fedora that makes girls swoon! It’s been two years since Bruno burst onto the scene with Doo-Wops & Hooligans after penning and singing the hooks on songs like B.o.B’s “Nothing On You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionare.” With that much success so early on it’s hard not to wonder if Bruno would survive the sophomore slumps or continue to produce chart topping hits. Unorthodox Jukebox proves that Bruno isn’t going anywhere any time soon. While Doo-Wops was full of cheesy, made for radio hits, Bruno’s latest album is more subtle with it’s catchiness, churning out songs that show Bruno’s growth as he experiments with various genres and sounds while still encouraging fans to dance and sing along. At the heart of the album, Bruno is still the young, naive boy who thinks he can have it all. This album may not have as many radio hits as Doo-Wops, but it’s sure to satisfy both fans and critics!
Track-by-track review below!
Young Girls – Bruno debuted this song while on SNL a few months ago and it instantly grabbed my attention. Bruno’s vocals aren’t as passionate and prominent on the studio version, but the bells in the background music help shed light on the fact that Bruno is a young and naive boy who fall way too hard and dreams way too hard. Bruno sings, “Oh I still dream of a simple life. Boy meets girl, makes her his wife. But love don’t exist when you live like this,” and you can’t help but feel bad for the poor guy.
Locked Out of Heaven – Upon first listens I wasn’t a fan of this song, but with a few performances it’s grown on me. Who knew being addicted to sex would sound THIS good?! The funky beat mixed with Bruno’s clever lyrics make for an irresistible jam.
Gorilla – Where “Locked Out of Heaven” was subtle, “Gorilla” isn’t. Bruno is drunk and high on cocaine and ready to “lay it down” in the ambitious track. “You’ll be banging on my chest, bang bang Gorilla. You and me baby making love like Gorilla’s,” sounds kind of silly and cliche, but Bruno sells it. The beat remains subtle, with the drums kicking in at times to mimic the intensity of Bruno’s love session with his woman.
Treasure – “Treasure” is retro gold. Most of Bruno’s songs have retro influences, but it’s the most prominent on this song. “Treasure” is one of those songs you put on after a long day of work, while cooking and dancing like James Brown (or so you think) around the house.
Moonshine – Bruno’s ode to liquor sounds like just another love song. He’s not himself when he doesn’t have his moonshine, but when he does the stars are shining and everyone’s vibing along to his soulful tunes.
When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars regrets not doing all the right things for his lady love when he had the chance over a piano-driven track in “When I Was Your Man.” As far as Bruno tunes go, this song is simple and sweet and completely heartbreaking.
Natalie – Natalie is one of those “Young Girls” Bruno probably should’ve avoided, but he didn’t so now he’s stuck singing a biter tune about the girl who stole all of his money and left him for dead. The vengeful song sounds ritualistic and intense, echoing Bruno’s strong lyrics (“I’m digging a ditch, for this gold digging b*tch). I’m scared for Natalie.
Show Me – “Liquor Store Blues” was the closest we got to reggae on Bruno’s debut, and “Show Me” is our sample for this album. Bruno’s voice dances around the rhythmic track that’s eerily similar to “Murda She Wrote” as he asks his lover to show him exactly how she feels.
Money Make Her Smile – Bruno continues to bash gold digging girls in “Money Make Her Smile,” so clearly he’s been burned a few times by that type. This song is fast and completely hectic, with casino-like sounds that drive home the point of a stripper who worships the almighty dollar.
If I Knew – More soulful crooning from Bruno to close out the album. The guitar riff is reminiscent of past rhythm and blues and Bruno sings that same sad and lonely tune. It’s been done before, yet it’s still jarring and attention grabbing.