Until about two weeks ago, Bruno Mars could have called his auto-biography Almost Famous. The 24-year-old Hawaiian had his name on two pop smashes B.o.B's ''Nothin' on You'' and Travie McCoy's ''Billionaire,'' both of which he co-wrote, co- produced, and sang on but little of the press attention that often follows those who top the pop charts. One arrest (in Las Vegas, for drug possession) and one No. 1 solo hit (sweetly smitten ballad ''Just the Way You Are'') later, he is, for better or worse, no longer an ''almost.''
Doo-Wops & Hooligans aptly applies Mars' studio talents: instant-access melodies, creamy production, sly snatches of dance-floor swagger. And he do, in his own postmillennial way, wop; a malt-shop heart beats beneath the digital skin of tracks like the buoyant ''Marry You'' and woebegone ''Talking to the Moon.''
Atmospheric opener ''Grenade'' and ''Runaway Baby,'' with its '60s-soul snap, are immediate stylistic standouts, though other modes suit him less well; ''Our First Time'' feels a bit too Al B. Sure!, and ''The Lazy Song'' is perhaps better left to Jason Mraz. Still, Hooligans proves that this onetime background player makes a pretty solid first banana. B+