If there's been one constant throughout
's musical career, it's been evolution. Over the course of nine years and three albums, he has grown from precocious 15-year-old buzzmaker to bona fide R&B icon before our eyes. Having established himself as a fully-grown pop powerhouse with '07's critically acclaimed
, Mario's preparing to take his career to the next level with the release of what he calls “the most personal, colossal album of his career.” Set to hit stores Oct., 13, the long-awaited, highly anticipated
LP will showcase some of Mario's most confident, stylistically daring work yet.
To build anticipation for the forthcoming album,
has released five preview tracks of the album, including three unreleased cuts. Read on for our thoughts on each track!
-assisted lead single we all know and just about all of us have learned to love. Though the
was largely negative, the stark, unconventional cut proved to be the very definition of a grower, climbing to #3 on our own
and hitting #17 on the
Thinkin' About You:
Released on Sept. 4, as the official second single, this sweeping track currently sits at #3 on our
. Mario's soaring vocals and big-name production duo
' steamy, synth-soaked boardwork were a
, as evidenced by the cut's impressive 3.75-star average rating.
Soundtrack to My Broken Heart:
Traditional R&B balladry juxtaposed with spacey, cutting-edge production seems to be a recurring theme on
-penned track finds
Los da Mystro
freshening up a slow-burning piano loop with a clipped percussion/bass rhythm and scorching, low-frequency synth accents as Mario vents his sorrow over a rocky relationship. As we learn on the hook, Mario's heart cries a good octave or two lower (but no less soulfully) than Prince's “Doves.”
Fans of trendy, House-influenced club music will find just what they're looking for in this cut, which features the artist taking a nighttime drive, crazy with lust for a female who insists on taking it slow. Mario's sexual frustration is a listeners' gain. With a chilly yet propulsive beat by
and some glittering overdubbed harmonies on the hook, this erotic jam is guaranteed to get fans' engines revving.
By far the most subdued of the five selections, this mournful breakup ballad shines the spotlight squarely on Mario's emotive, reverb-drenched vocals. Producer
contributes a low-key but subtly dazzling beat packed with mood-heightening touches. Slip on your headphones, because computer speakers don't do this one justice.
Five tracks is far from enough to be able to make any final pronouncements about
, but if these songs are any indication, Mario’s evolution into an R&B superstar is proceeding right on schedule.