D.N.A.

Mario

D.N.A.

Mario broadens his horizons with his fourth album, a dramatic effort that reaches well beyond the parameters of R&B. D.N.A. still delivers R&B in the mold of Mario’s previous work — the sweet “Thinkin’ About You” and the lustful “Ooh Baby” are two of the album’s best songs — but the bulk of the material has more in common with Beyonce and Rihanna, female powerhouses who made their biggest hits by merging R&B, club, rock, and pop music. “Soundtrack to My Broken Heart” echoes the emotional vocal and determined guitar riff of Beyonce’s “If I Was A Boy,” while “Don’t Walk Away” is a confessional breakup song akin to Rihanna’s “Rehab.” That Mario is able to inhabit the same emotional space as those female superstars says a lot about his talents as a vocalist. The singer is starting to make music with cross-genre appeal, but he also knows how to put a fresh spin on old ideas. Two of the album’s most memorable tracks —“Starlight” and “Before She Said Hi”— are classic disco rhythms made new by heavy drums and catchy hooks.

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