Thursday, 24 September 2009
MIKA - The Boy Who Knew Too Much **Review**
Well well... Long long time ago - and can still remeber I wrote a review of Life In Cartoon Motion for one website...and I gave it a 3/5 star treatment. Basically saying MIKA did have potential but wasn't quite there yet...he reminded me of too many artists and wasn't original enough. For me.
Two years on I know better. First of all, I gave the songs on Life In Cartoon Motion a proper listen and managed to almost forget the ubiquity of Relax (Take It Easy) on Czech radios or the fact that our X Factor finalist Ondrej Ruml sang Grace Kelly live way better than MIKA seemed to be capable of at that time. Or the fact that when you're not in the right mood Lollipop andLove Today are pretty annoying songs.
I realized that more than a pop singer, MIKA really is a creative mad singer-songwriter/visual artist creating his own world who really has more in common with Amanda Palmer and Tim Burton than with Will Young.
The Boy Who Knew Too Much is supposed to be a teenage followup to the first record. And yes, it is. Sonically it doesn't retract from its predecessor...yet it feels slightly more mature and less naive. There's still a lot of joy but the energy feels more revolting. MIKA is good at combining pretty dark lyrics and imagery with upbeat music. But when the music's sad, MIKA's falling to pieces right in your speakers.
Let me take The Boy Who Knew Too Much song by song:
We Are Golden. A no-nonsense pop dance-y record that literally makes you (me) dancing around the room (only with more clothing than MIKA sports in the video for it). It sets the theme of the album perfectly. Upbeat music combined with lyrics about horny teenagers feeling glamorous also have their dark moments: "Now I’m sitting alone/I’m finally looking around/Left here on my own/I’m gonna hurt myself/Maybe losing my mind/I’m still wondering why/Had to let the world let it bleed me dry."
It pretty much shows this song is more a lonely teenager, living inside of his glam dream afraid of facing the real world than a bunch of young and fabulous people dancing in a club.
Blame It On The Girls. Another strong pop hit, catchy memorable chorus, hand claps and all. You don't even realize you sing along to lyrics featuring dead fathers. And yeah, the lead character of this song is apparently a flink who should get a life instead of blaming his dissatisfaction with life on everyone else. Or something.
Rain. This song started out as a beautiful ballad about more love being given than recieved...and on record it ended up being a dance track about more love being given than recieved. Very Pet Shop Boys.
I still prefer the slower piano version but this song is so good, it survived even this dance pop treatment.
Dr John. And finally we get to a point where I won't use as many superlatives. This song just feels to me like Billy Brown without the great chorus...this chorus just feels incomplete. Top lyrics, tho.
I See You. Part of this song's circulated the internet as "I'm Falling" - which is the verses part of the song. Then it continues as a moving ballad MIKA proved to be good at right on the first album (Any Other World, *gulp*, Happy Ending *snort*)...yet I don't quite feel the impact of this song as of yet. It'll probably take some more time. At first I nicknamed Happy Ending That Take That Song...
Blue Eyes. Firts of the two songs that were originally featured on MIKA's Songs For Sorrow EP which was released in June. One of the wonderful artwork that accompanied this song on the EP was a picture of crying eyes, some of which had been apparenty cut off in places. That sums this song up pretty well. It's a good song, catchy, yet...in the three months I've been listening to it I haven't yet managed to get fed up by it.
Good Gone Girl. An OK song about old slappers and slightly younger slappers looking for a rich man in this crazy world. Or something to that extent.
Touches You yesterday got the award for The Catchiest Song of the Week. Enough said. Upbeat, catchy but not in a Lollipop kind of way. Dance-y and clappy. Yay. My mind's been too busy dancing and failed yet to figure out what the heck this song is about. "I wanna be your brother, wanna be your father too/Never make you run for cover even if they want us to/I wanna be your sister, wanna be your mother too/I wanna be wanna be/Whatever else that touches you."
By The Time. This song's been in my head ever since I gained consciousness this morning. "Don't wake up, won't wake up, can't wake up/No, don't wake me up." You can tell why... A beautiful, tender piece of a song. The vocal style kinda reminds me of Glee - especially the backing vocals. The chorus on the other hand...it sounds slightly familiar. But I don't care, this song just feels like a couple of beautiful wild flowers covered by dew that bask in the morning light of July.
One Foot Boy. Ahh, sorry...good, OK song but it doesn't really stand out. Kind of mediocre by MIKA's standard. Though the lyrics are all about craziness, shooting someone, wanting to be left alone and yeah...a one foot boy - all good then.
Toy Boy. For me one of THE songs of 2009, been obsessed by it ever since the Songs For Sorrow EP came out. If you're not a fan of dark/punk cabaret or Kurt Weill, you probably won't appreciate it as much BUT read the lyrics. Really, do yourselves a favour and read them.
"But your mama thought there was somethin’ wrong/Didn’t want you sleeping with a boy too long/It’s a serious thing in a grown-up world/Maybe you’d be better with a Barbie girl" should be enough to give them a chance.
Pick Up Off The Floor. Starts off as a ballad and ends up being a full-on bluesy wonderfullness you can imagine yourself singing along to at 6 am when you're the last person at the bar. Kind of.
And that is where the regular album ends.
BUT I ain't gonna buy just a regular version of the album, am I.
So for me the last song on the album is improved Lover Boy. Improved from the demo state that's been on the web, that is. Now I understand why MIKA isn't very happy about fans hearing what they shouldn't hear. The finished Lover Boy is indeed so much better than the demo and complements Pick Up Off The Floor very well.
Summary? The Boy Who Knew Too Much does have its weak parts but not weak enough to be intolerable. Basically, if you liked MIKA before you're gonna love this; if you hated him, this album probably won't change your mind, yet it's been cured from some of the illnesses the first album suffered. Treat this as a recommendation, then.
Even if you think you don't like MIKA, give him and his colourful world with many dark undertones a chance.