The name Bruno Mars may not ring a bell, but you’re familiar with his work. Flo Rida and Ke$ha’s inescapable 2009 hit “Right Round”? Bruno co-wrote it. K’naan’s inspirational “Wavin’ Flag,” which will be the 2010 FIFA World Cup anthem? He co-produced it. And those catchy choruses from B.o.B’s “Nothin’ On You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” that you can’t get out of your head? Yup, that’s Bruno.
The 23-year-old Hawaiian singer, songwriter and producer, capitalizing on his recent successes, has found the perfect time to release his debut, It’s Better If You Don’t Understand. The 4-track EP weaves in and out of styles, showcasing Bruno’s hit-making expertise.
“Somewhere In Brooklyn” is an ode to love at first sight, set to the ever-romantic backdrop of New York City. With a soundscape of synth-pop bleeps and a simple drum pattern, Bruno shows the elasticity of his vocal range, including an impressive falsetto.
Bruno Mars pays musical tribute to his home state on “Count On Me.” The acoustic number, which could easily be a Jack Johnson or Jason Mraz song, is a tender tribute to a trusted friend and confidant. Meanwhile, “Talking To The Moon” is a yearning dedication to long-lost love, with a dynamic instrumental that builds from simple piano chords to thunderous drums and synthesizers.
But hands down, the best track is “The Other Side,” which features Atlanta singer-rappers Cee-Lo and B.o.B. Featuring eerie church organs, wolves howling and a frantic electronic drum breakdown at the end, the song is a perfect showcase for the left-field shift popular hip-hop and R&B is taking.
If there is any fault with It’s Better If You Don’t Understand, which was produced entirely by The Smeezingtons (the production and songwriting team composed of Bruno, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine), it’s brevity: Clocking in at less than 14 minutes, the EP will leave you wanting more.