October is finally here. Halloween. The beginning of hockey season. A realistic approach to autumn. And Chris is here to kick it all off, with a review of Mika’s new album The Boy Who Knew Too Much.
Born in Beirut, raised in Paris and London, Michael Penniman has been all over. But he’s just getting started.
You may know him better by his stage name Mika. With a range of nearly four octaves, he’s been compared extensively to Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Robbie Williams. His debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion, came out in early 2007, and he’s been on fire (not literally) ever since. The same year he shoved his cleats into the public eye, he dominated the World Music Awards, receiving nominations in three separate categories – Best-Selling New Artist, Best-Selling Male Pop/Rock Artist, and Best-Selling British Artist. He then swept all three. In 2008 he was nominated for a Grammy and took home the BRIT Award for British Breakthrough Act. I’m sure he’ll have more credentials I can list once the media moguls munch on his modish new music.
The Boy Who Knew Too Much is his newest album, released a mere nine days ago. Anticipation has been high, and Mika switched it into 6th gear by releasing an EP, Songs for Sorrow, in spring. His first album is one of my all-time favorites, so I went into this with high hopes. This new album has even been branded “part two” of Life In Cartoon Motion by the singer himself. Please don’t set me up for heartbreak, Mika, I have the Jacksonville Jaguars for that….
Well, I could speculate some more, or I could write a track by track nobody is going to read. I’m all about more work for less payoff, so let’s go with the latter.
Track 1: “We Are Golden”
This song picks up where Life In Cartoon Motion left off. The lyrics are kind of bleeding-heart, but I suppose most hearts do indeed bleed. Anyway, good piano, awesome music and vocals, sappy chorus, could easily replace any song on his first album. All you need to know. 4
Track 2: “Blame It On The Girls”
This track starts out much like his single “Grace Kelly” does – with an audio clip. It’s a really good one, though. It then gets very electronica/dance, in a good way. The chorus is simple and catchy (big surprise), and there’s a pretty good piano breakdown to start the bridge off. Fun song. 4
Track 3: “Rain”
I like the start of the song and the verses, but the chorus gets on my nerves. His voice gets annoying and high pitched in contrast with the chill dance beat that backs most of the song. Toward the end it turns into straight rave music, pretty interesting actually. 3½
Track 4: “Dr. John”
This song starts at almost like a Jack Johnson/John Mayer/other acoustic artist song, and goes back to that standard for all the verses. The chorus, however, is the usual Mika. I’m pretty sure this song is about complaining to his shrink, but it could just as well be about VD, jury’s still out. 3½
Track 5: “I See You”
Mika shows his slow side in this one. I don’t like it. I mean, it’s all right, but he just uses the way high octaves when a song like this calls for a much lower voice. Average lyrics. 3
Track 6: “Good Gone Girl”
Good piano in this song. This is good old fashioned Mika, in the same vein as LICM (lol, abbreviation win). I like the lyrics. It’s not a real standout but is a solid song and keeps the flow of the album going. 4
Track 7: “Touches You”
This is kind of a creepy song. He says he wants to “be your brother, wanna be your father too… wanna be your sister, wanna be your mother too”. Umm, no thx. He also wants to be anything else that touches you. Yep, he thinks he’s one of the Wonder Twins. However, it is damn catchy. 3½
Track 8: “By The Time”
When I first heard this song, I thought “Wow, this sounds like Imogen Heap”. I later found out the reason for that – it is her. Super fab collab! F’realzies, though, it’s a dank song if you like Frou Frou, which I do. Wooh hooh! Ehh, too far. 4½
Track 9: “One Foot Boy”
The beat on this one is ill, like a dance track combined with Pokemon music. It’s fun and poppy without getting on my nerves. The first few times I heard this, I thought it was about a boy with only one foot. I was wrong, it’s about a boy that’s 12 inches tall; go figure. 4
Track 10: “Pick Up Off The Floor”
Legit violins to begin, epic win. We slow it down again for this one, and he does a better job of soft vocals on this one. Not Tempur-pedic soft, but Serta at the very least. Good lyrics. 4
Track 11: “Lover Boy”
Freddie Mercury reincarnated, much? Good tune, reminiscent of Queen, but still as Mika as it gets. I spent at least a few weeks with the MySpace name “Old Fashioned Loverboy” so I feel at least partially connected to this song…. 4
Track 12: “Blue Eyes”
This has almost a salsa-ish feel at the start. Good guitar riff throughout. This song displays how good he is when he doesn’t get carried away. Solid lyrics, but it’s the percussion that really does it for me. 4½
Track 13: “Toy Boy”
Starts out like a cartoon, not surprising considering the title. This is a real playful melody, sports impressive lyrics, and is a fun listen and excellent way to round the album out. Plus, it helps him maintain his mild creepiness throughout the very end. 4
I dig this album. It’s a lot like his first, but avoids watering down his unique sound. Individually, the tracks don’t stand out as much to me, and the album on the whole isn’t as good, as Life In Cartoon Motion. It holds it’s own, though, and clearly establishes Mika as one of the next international music legends. You may laugh now, but it’ll happen eventually – dude’s only 25. I expect him to branch out further with his next release, and am anxious to see how he grows as an artist. The Boy Who Knew Too Much gets a big ol’ 4 burned into his pale white ass cheeks. Yep, I’m ending this one with a child abuse double entendre. Do something about it.