Your basket is empty

Categories :

Albums

From
CD£7.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Casablanca Records - Island UK

Making an album even more vibrant than Life in Cartoon Motion would have been difficult for Mika. On The Boy Who Knew Too Much, he doesn't try to top himself; instead, he reins in just enough of his debut's indulgent tendencies to let his gift for great melodies and hooks be the focus. His multifaceted pop sounds a little calmer and a lot more confident here -- rather than cramming songs with moments intended to impress that end up being overwhelming, "Dr. John"'s finger-popping minor fall and major lift and the calypso-tinged "Blue Eyes" actually are impressive because they're so direct. While Life in Cartoon Motion was remarkably engaging, occasionally it felt like Mika was more skilled at pastiche than presenting his own sound. Here, Mika and producer Greg Wells fashion songs that sound truly distinctive; though touches of inspirations and peers like Elton John, the Bee Gees, and the Scissor Sisters still pop up, the musician Mika borrows from most on The Boy Who Knew Too Much is himself. The album's opening trio of tracks nods to his debut's most vivid moments without copying them: "We Are Golden" is every bit as sunshiny as "Love Today"; "Blame It on the Girls" builds on "Grace Kelly"'s sleek style; and "Rain" is a kissing cousin to "Relax"'s pulsing, melancholy disco-pop. Mika tries a few different sounds on for size, most notably on "Toy Boy," a subversively sweet singsong that lies somewhere between Elvis Presley's "Wooden Heart" and the Dresden Dolls' "Coin Operated Boy," and the torchy finale, "Pick Up Off the Floor." While ballads still aren't his forte, slower tracks like the Imogen Heap collaboration "By the Time" offer welcome breathing room from "One Foot Boy" and the album's other almost ridiculously catchy tracks. Anyone who liked Life in Cartoon Motion's bright, brash approach won't be disappointed by The Boy Who Knew Too Much -- it's clear Mika knows exactly what he's doing. © Heather Phares /TiVo
From
CD£5.49

Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Casablanca Records - Island UK

From
CD£5.49

Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Casablanca Records - Island UK

From
CD£7.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Casablanca Records - Island UK

From
CD£7.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Casablanca Records - Island UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Mika's vivid, aptly named debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, borrows and builds on the glittery, glamorous, and not-so-secretly sentimental musical territory carved out by Elton John and Freddie Mercury, or more recently, Rufus Wainwright and the Scissor Sisters. Fortunately, his name-dropping, shape-shifting pop is usually good, and genuine, enough to come across as eloquent homage rather than blatant thievery or a tired rehash. Mika's singles are his most charming moments, especially the instant sunshine of "Grace Kelly," which crams tap-dancing rhythms, filmic dialogue, Elton's pianos, Freddie's vocal harmonies, and Brian May's guitars into just over three minutes. "Relax (Take It Easy)" is in the same vein of hypnotic, danceable melancholy as the Scissor Sisters' reworking of "Comfortably Numb," albeit less showy, while "Billy Brown"'s brass arrangement, flowing melody, and soft-shoe rhythms give it the feel of an unusually witty show tune about pre-life crises and living in the closet. As Life in Cartoon Motion unfolds, it reveals more of Mika's musical identity, both for better and worse. His classical piano training gives the album an appealing fluidity, especially on "Any Other World," and lilting, Afro-pop-inspired guitars and harmonies pop up here and there, most effectively on "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)." However, while Life in Cartoon Motion has lots of enthusiasm and creativity, it doesn't have a lot of nuance. On songs like "Lollipop" and "Love Today," Mika straddles the line between adorable and annoying. And as the overly long, overwrought "Erase" shows, he also doesn't have quite the masterful touch with gentler songs that his influences possess. As admirable as Life in Cartoon Motion's eclecticism is, it could use more focus -- something that songs like the jaunty breakup song "Stuck in the Middle" and angry rocker "Ring Ring" suggest Mika is developing. While more restraint could've taken the album from good to great, its Technicolor, everything-at-once, borderline overdone feel makes it a fitting portrait of Mika as a young artist. © Heather Phares /TiVo