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CD of the week: Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox

The small but perfectly formed Bruno has made a righteously good record, a gem of a soul album with the smartest of pop chops.

Bruno Mars

Unorthodox Jukebox

Atlantic, £12.99

****

Demanding your undivided attention, it has a pinch of Prince’s je ne sais quoi, and the credible commercial appeal of John Mayer’s adult pop savvy.

He has already shown 
his hand with the singles released so far, but there 
are some surprises in store for the uninitiated. Opening tune Young Girls is how the Police could still sound if Sting awoke from his 
tantric stupor, and Locked Out Of Heaven hurtles 
down the same pop rocky road. It only stops when hitting the buffers on the primal pounding of Gorilla, a hypnotic floor-filler transported from the 
1980s. But he flits to the 1950s too for the rock’n’roll twang of If I Knew, and 
then effortlessly slips into dancehall and dub reggae with Show Me. Having a sweet toasting voice enhances the process, but Mars likes to give a nod to funk heritage acts as well. The crazy catchiness of Money Makes Her Smile manages to reference Rick James while recycling the bass line from Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax.

Bruno Mars is the acceptable face of modern R&B, making timeless pop for all ages, although the fruitier lyrics might make granny blush.

Colin Somerville

Download this: Young Girls, Gorilla, Money Make Her Smile

 

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