“I’m a dangerous man,” whoops Bruno Mars, more in hope than expectation, on 24K Magic’s opening track. As a wildly successful good-vibe merchant, Mars is only a danger to the sensibilities of people who detest his retro-fuelled buoyancy. For those who are on board, however, his third album will further the impression that he’s Barry Manilow in 90s R&B clothing: a writer of bothersomely memorable hooks, and a singer of great likability.
Though Mars styles himself as a playa here – scoring a few Romeo points on Calling All My Lovelies by featuring Halle Berry’s actual voicemail – the core of the album is his passion for the early 90s period when hip-hop met soul. James Brown is referenced unto pastiche on the crisp Perm, but Finesse and That’s What I Like respectively revisit new jack swing and the young R Kelly with such love that it’s not so much throwback as righteous resurrection.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010