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Review of Mika's Album (Life In Cartoon Motion) By Miriam Zendle


Sunny Monkey
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Mika (last name never revealed) (Edit by Sunny Monkey: I know what his last name is, PM me to find out ;) ) is yet another artist to suffer from the label of 'up-and-coming', but the lanky pop almost-star will hopefully live up to his moniker and keep rising to the challenges presented in a world of indie and r'n'b prevalence. Producing high quality, zinging pop tunes at various , his debut album Life In Cartoon Motion shows off Mika's extant repertoire.

 

1. 'Grace Kelly'

Currently his most listened to track on MySpace and his debut single, 'Grace Kelly' shows off influences ranging from the campness of the Scissor Sisters to the intelligent lyricism of an artist like Rufus Wainwright. It's catchy, witty, clever and cute without becoming irritating in the process.

 

2. 'Lollipop'

Silly, repetitive but thoroughly enjoyable, this naughty little tune is just the right length to prevent boredom. It's also extremely easy to dance to, which explains the prevalence of the bouncy chorus. Thumping rhythms, high-pitched, twinkling vocals and jerky reggae beats all combine to form a cool, funky little song.

 

3. 'My Interpretation'

Mika veers into ballad territory on this rather formulaic, but lush piece of music which dives from heartfelt verse to power ballad chorus whilst allowing a powerful guitar and Queen-esque high notes to be brought into the mix. Whilst it harks back to the era of bands like Berlin as opposed to looking to the future, it still shows versatility.

 

4. 'Love Today'

Easily one of Mika's most popular tunes to date and already featured on the RED campaign in the States, his swooping vocals stretch high throughout the majority of one of the catchiest tunes on the album. It's a blistering high-camp pop tune sung in a fabulously pitched vocal that doesn't grate but rather intrigues. This really should be a single.

5. 'Relax, Take It Easy'

Already released as a download-only track on iTunes and as a limited edition (500 copies) LP that sold out very quickly , this perky song veers more into the dance side of things than previous tracks have managed. Its retro sound and Mika's powerful, lilting vocals work perfectly in tandem, though it perhaps doesn't quite have the immediacy of some other songs.

 

6. 'Any Other World'

This is the weakest song on the album. Despite a luscious occasional stabbing of strings that interpolate with the soft, pleading melody, it's still pretty dreary and lacking in the same emotion and energy as the other tracks. It's not terrible, but it's certainly not great.

 

7. 'Billy Brown'

Steering sharply away from the modern elements influencing his work, The Beatles get a bit of a look in with blasting brass and layered harmonies on this tale of a man discovering his sexuality, freaking out and running away to "an island off the coast of Mexico". Clever, funny, but does grate slightly after a few listens, so don't overdose on it!

 

8. 'Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)'

Written in the space of a few minutes in the middle of the night, inspired by a Victoria Wood documentary on big, beautiful women, this Dolly Parton-ed up track is an ode to the larger women in Mika's family. A song to cheer you up if ever you heard one, this is brilliantly uplifting and full of lyrics that'll make you chuckle.

 

9. 'Stuck In The Middle'

A wonderful surprise comes close to the end of the album with this bouncy, fantastic romp that sports one of the least original song titles ever heard - a pound for each time it's been used, please? - but great lyrics and great harmonising vocals from guitarist Marti while Mika scats and lilts all over the shop makes for one of the best songs on the entire album.

 

10. 'Happy Ending'

The penultimate track (yes, there's a secret one) on Life In Cartoon Motion develops from a so-so ballad into a gospel-tinged layered conclusion that notes: "This is the way you left me/I'm not pretending/No hope, no love, no glory/No happy ending." More up-and-down on the whole than much of the remainder of the album, but still clearly demonstrating great songwriting.

 

11. 'Over My Shoulder'

You should definitely keep listening to track ten of the album, because a little gem is hidden away right at the end. A soft, acoustic, totally falsetto duet between mult-talented guitarist Marti and Mika himself, 'Over My Shoulder' is delicious, soft and completely heartbreaking. Live, it's transfixing, on record - not much different.

 

There can be such a thing as over-hyping an artist, which can never a good thing, so the effusiveness will be reigned in for this summation. Luckily for his fans, Mika still seems to be lurking about at the boundaries of mainstream popularity, which is great for them but perhaps not so good for his wallet. This album is beautifully written - both musically and lyrically - and it's impossible to not like at least one of the songs on here, simply for the sheer variety of music you're offered within these eleven tracks. If you like P Diddy and not much else, this ain't for you. If, on the other hand, you've got an open mind and an ear for fresh talent, purchase and run to your nearest iPod or CD player, right now.

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I felt Ms Zendle was rather dismissive of "Relax, Take It Easy", just talking about how it sounds on the surface. No mention of what the song is about, or Mikas ability to cleverly slip a dark lyric, dealing with a serious subject, into a perky pop song. That was disappointing.

 

"...though it perhaps doesn't quite have the immediacy of some other songs."

 

Well maybe it's necessary to dig a little deeper than it's perky, dancy exterior.

 

No mention also of the origins of Grace Kelly, though happily does mention inspiration for "Big Girl".

 

CW

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