Judging by this breezy, calculated, hit-oriented debut, a recent arrest for cocaine possession is not going to derail the Bruno Mars runaway train to stardom. The singer-songwriter sang the hooks of three of this summer’s biggest songs, including B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You’’ (which he co-wrote), and he has a clear talent for writing bright melodies and delivering smooth pop that is instantly radio ready. His plaintive voice aches oh so gently on love songs like the artfully arranged throwback “Marry You’’ (yes, it includes church bells) and “Count on Me,’’ where he delivers one of his best vocals. Most of these sweetly produced tracks are geared toward young women, who will melt at his pledges of devotion. The dub-influenced “Liquor Store Blues,’’ about getting wasted in the face of tough times, and a surf stoner’s anthem, “The Lazy Song,’’ cut through the romantic tone. The highlight is “The Other Side,’’ featuring Cee Lo Green and B.o.B. It rivals Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope’’ as one of the most joyous four minutes of pop this year. While promising, though, the disc reveals little about Mars — other than that he clearly has his eyes on the charts. (Out now)
ESSENTIAL “The Other Side’’
Bruno Mars plays the Paradise Rock Club Nov. 30.