Bruno Mars has chosen a perfect title for his second album, “Unorthodox Jukebox.”
In the follow-up to his Grammy-winning debut album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” the versatile singer-songwriter and producer blends R&B, reggae, rock, soul, pop and hip-hop, reflecting a musical childhood in Hawaii where exposure to different styles of music was the norm (as a small boy he performed with his parents’ band, doing a pint-size impersonation of Elvis Presley).
The new album’s first single, “Locked Out of Heaven,” sounds like a tribute to The Police — an edgy, romantic, pop-reggae tune about a guy who wants to spend the night with his girlfriend. “Treasure” is also romantic, but with a beat-driven R&B sound reminiscent of Michael Jackson. “You’re my golden star,” Mars coos.
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In “Gorilla,” a song filled with explicit sexual references, Mars sings, “Got a body full of liquor with a cocaine kicker.” By contrast, “When I Was Your Man” is a melancholy piano ballad about lost love that leaves a haunting impression.
A femme fatale is the center of attention in two songs, “Natalie” and “Money Make Her Smile.” The subject of the former must have made a really bad impression on Mars. He could have titled it “Ouch.”
Finally, Mars taps his doo-wop/R&B sensibilities for “If I Knew,” an elegant closer to an album packed with great songs. Mars could get another Grammy nod for this one.
Green Day, “Tré” (Reprise)
Various Artists, “Music of [the TV show] Nashville” (Big Machine)
Lifehouse, “Almería” (Geffen)