The bad news about Mario
's fourth album is that the first single, "Break Up" is nothing more than a cold, empty attempt to get Mario back on terrestrial radio again. The good news is that almost every song on the album D.N.A.
(released in the U.S. on Oct. 13, 2009) is better than "Break Up," and brings the emotion, the drama and the passion that's utterly lacking in the first single. Unlike some of today's R&B singers, who have adopted a thug or street mentality, Mario proudly remains a sensitive lover-man, one who proudly proclaims that he's not afraid to cry or admit that he makes mistakes.
"Break Up," which features rapper Gucci Mane and producer (and third-rate singer) Sean Garrett, is a perfect example of ringtone R&B: it's got a very catchy hook that sticks in your head. The problem is, it's also completely soulless, in both senses of the word. It's not even readily apparent whose song it is when you first hear it: Mario's voice is indistinct on the song and winds up being outshined by not only Gucci, but the beat itself and even Garrett, whose "why would you wanna break uuuup," refrain is the song's highlight. The song may have been a mid-level hit, but three years from now, people probably won't even remember whose song it was.
That said, the other 11 songs on the album (with the exception of the over-produced "Before She Said Hi") are all pretty good. If "Break Up" hadn't been chosen as the first single, there would have been a handful of other deserving choices, including the sexy, radio-friendly "Ooh Baby," the bitter break-up song "Get Out" and the dance track "Starlight." The good news is that there's not a lot of crude, distasteful material on this album, like on his third release, Go. For the most part, the album is PG or PG-13, instead of the R and occasional x-rated lyrics that threw dirt on Mario's squeaky clean image.
Mario even goes deep into the sensitive guy well on the album's last song, "The Hardest Moment." The track, another break-up song, might win him some new fans (but perhaps not male ones) due to lyrics like "If your feel a tear falling on your lips, then that would be mine/'cause I'm a man that afraid to cry." Now that's daring.