I was first introduced to Mika by my roomate who blasted “Grace Kelly” on repeat for days. I normally got on his case for doing that, but this song was a lot of fun. Similar to the Scissor sisters, and with very feminine male vocals that reminded me of Freddie Mercury more than just a little. I listened to the rest of the album, and found more of the same thing: sugary, layered pop. Most of the songs were fun, though not necessarily memorable, as I can’t seem to recall enough about them to actually compare that last album to this one.
This album sticks mostly to fun piano vibe throughout, although there a couple tracks that have a more somber tone. The overall sound is a fusion of Elton John’s piano rock with 80s-00s girl pop (but sung by a man with a feminine voice), with the addition of big band horns and/or orchestra strings and/or synthesizers as backing tracks. You’ll even hear touches of latin music (Blue Eyes), lo-fi electronic indie (bits of One Foot Boy), Eric Clapton a la the “Unplugged” album (Pick Up Off the Floor), old-time carnival music (Lover Boy), and Electric Light Orchestra (Dr. John).
We Are Golden:
This opening track gives you a pretty good idea of what Mika is about right off the bat. Campy vocal lines with liberal use of falsetto like you would hear from Queen, or more likely The Darkness channelling Queen. A choir of children backs Mika up on the pre-chorus, and the bridge is driven by a dance rock beat before alternating hushed vocal lines and banged piano chords lead back into the big pop rock chorus.
This piano-driven tune bounces along with squelchy synth bassline, and Mika sings like he’s Freddie Mercury channelling Michael Jackson. Choir vocal backups add some atmosphere.
If you have read more than a few of my reviews, it is probably apparently that I often enjoy silly, theatrical music as much as I enjoy guitar dirven rock. In this song, Mika tells a story in the first person of a toy boy who is thrown away, neglected and abused by various owners. It could almost fit into a Disney movie, other than the lyrics being somewhat suggestive at times. The sad but silly vocals (“She stuck her voodoo pins where my eyes used to be”) are backed up by strings, with flute and tuba accents here and there.
I didn’t realise when I chose this album to review, but Imogen Heap (whose album I reviewed Two weeks ago) worked on one of the songs on this album, called “By the Time”. If you are familiar with her style at all, it is very obvious that it was either her that wrote it, or a well crafted ripoff. I originally thought it was the latter, until I realised that both artists reside in England, and probably wouldn’t have too tough of a time running into each other now and then. Also, Mika sings with such a feminine voice, and he apes other voices well, so it was a little tough to tell if some of the backing vocals were done by Mika or Ms. Heap.
If you are a fan of the Scissor Sisters, Mika’s previous album, dance-pop (not the clubby kind, more like the Spice Girls Kind), or even Queen or Elton John, this album has something for you. If you do not like sugary pop, piano, or campy vocal styles, cover your ears and start running.