Few things are more humiliating for a music critic than giving a good review to someone like Bruno Mars. Still, it's hard to deny the guy's amazing ability to write a hook. If he weren't trying so hard to prove something on this follow-up to the wildly successful Doo-Wops & Hooligans, we might even have given it 4Ns, but his desperation to be taken seriously saves us from that shame.
The biggest problem is the album's tired genre-hopping jukebox concept. Too many of the tracks seem more like very good imitations of song types than like actual songs. His riffs on disco, reggae, new wave and retro soul are all convincing enough but still feel like well-designed illusions. Worse, the bad boy persona he tries to project in his lyrics is even less believable than his previous obnoxiously wholesome image.
Authenticity issues aside, though, the guy is an truly impressive pop craftsman.
Top track: Locked Out Of Heaven