NEW YORK: Bruno Mars hasn’t had much time to bask in success. After a short breather, he is back with a new album – and his spirit is as sunny as ever. “24K Magic,” which was released on Friday, is from start to finish a party album, which brings crowds to their feet from the first beat and, even on ballads, keeps its upbeat vibe.The 31-year-old Hawaii-born singer has become one of the decade’s most successful artists with an unapologetically retro sensibility, producing pop tracks that hark back to jukebox hits from the 1980s and earlier. If the songs of passionate love and longing occasionally reference the 21st century, the sounds on the latest album again remind of another time save for the occasional hip-hop delivery.
His voice takes on a brassy power that could easily be mistaken for James Brown on “Perm” as Mars invites women to his party – asking them to relax in the way that formula uncurls hair. “Put your phone down, let’s get it! / Forget your Instagram and your Twitter / Got me like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute!’,” Mars sings. The opening title track on “24K Magic” takes on echoes of early Janet Jackson with heavy synthesizers and a readily danceable beat. Mars, who coincidentally released the album 10 days after one of the most divisive elections in US history, makes it no secret that he wants to stay positive and uncontroversial.
He stays out of celebrity beefs and away from the gossip pages, preferring to keep his hard-working schedule in the studio and as a live performer. Mars, speaking to Apple Music’s Beats One radio about the latest album, said he saw “24K Magic” as carrying an atmosphere akin to a movie soundtrack. “It could be boring for people this day and age, but I don’t want to be known for scandals or controversy,” he said. “I want to be that guy who brings joy to your life through his music. That’s it. And I want to go home, throw on some Netflix and live a life.” Mars, whose diverse ancestry includes Puerto Rican and Filipino roots, purposely does not use his real surname Hernandez to avoid being lumped in as a Latin artist.
Dropped by storied Motown Records early in his career, Mars enjoyed phenomenal success with “Unorthodox Jukebox.” He achieved five number-one hits on the US singles chart more quickly than any artist except Elvis Presley – whose stage persona is a major influence on Mars. After an extensive tour for the last album, Mars only partially left the limelight. He collaborated with producer Mark Ronson on “Uptown Funk,” the mega-hit with touches of early Prince that is in line with the sound of the latest album. Mars took to the stage for the halftime show at the Super Bowl, the year’s biggest television event, and assisted as a songwriter for English balladeer Adele’s blockbuster album “25.” Mars plans another massive tour to accompany “24K Magic,” with nearly 100 concerts across Europe and North America over the coming year.