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Mika - Life In Cartoon Motion

Mika, Life In Cartoon Motion

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

BEIRUT-born, London-based singer-songwriter Mika shot to attention when he topped the BBC’s Sound of 2007 poll. His debut single Grace Kelly then shot straight to number one thanks to download sales.

It’s safe to say that his defiantly catchy songwriting has captured the nation’s subconscious.

But can the debut album cement his position as the UK’s favourite new artist, or will it ensure that he’s simply a flash in the pan – a novelty destined to go the way of The Darkness?

In truth, the jury remains out. Life In Cartoon Motion is a giddy, goofy and hopelessly guilty pleasure. It’s a pop confection that embraces the glam-rock of Scissor Sisters, the debonair of Freddie Mercury, the pop savvy of Robbie Williams and Wham! and the balladry of Elton John.

And it will get on your nerves as much as it impresses. But many of its tracks are destined to become this year’s biggest party anthems – the type of which will keep revellers bopping around the dancefloor keen to make as big an idiot of themselves as possible.

So, for now, the joke’s on us…

But how else can you take to a track like Lollipop, a hideously contagious childlike romp that puts a youthful sheen on the finger-clicking rhythms of Gwen Stefani and transforms them into a hopelessly catchy favourite.

The soul-heavy falsetto chorus of “sucking too hard on your lollipop… oh loves gonna get you down” is cheeky, tacky but downright infectious. But just when you think it can’t get any more sickly, a young girl’s vocals kick in to lend it a Sesame Street vibe.

My Interpretation begins like an awkward merger of Robbie Williams and the Scissor Sisters, before eventually unfolding into a generally pleasing mid-tempo ballad that’s constructed around some disarming piano melodies.

And there’s more bouncing to be done during Love Today, a disco romp that soundchecks The Bee Gees and the Scissor Sisters in hopelessly kitsch fashion.

Relax, Take It Easy cheekily flirts with Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s seminal hit, before layering on the disco-glam for one of the most camp tracks on the album, while Any Other World mixes some atmospheric verses with a strings-laden chorus that’s ripped straight out of Beatles’ Sgt Pepper territory.

The latter is actually one of the standout tracks and one where Mika can be taken a little more seriously (even though it could have done without another children’s choir!).

The Beatles are also sound-checked on Billy Brown, a song that desperately wants to mug Penny Lane and The Carpenters, while Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls is the target for some fun on Big Girl (You Are Beautiful), a shameless rip-off that does at least have the good grace to poke fun at the size zero culture and celebrate the fuller figure.

For all of its camp, however, there are some serious undertones, as Mika’s lyrics combine daytime melodramas with night-time tales of loss, abandonment, hope and happiness – not to mention potshots at the record industy.

The singer-songwriting has cleverly moulded a debut album that’s rife with pop culture references, past and present, and big showman values.

For now, then, Mika emerges triumphant. It remains to be seen how long he’ll last before the bubble bursts.

Download picks: Lollipop, Any Other World, Happy Ending

Track listing:

  1. Grace Kelly
  2. Lollipop
  3. My Interpretation
  4. Love Today
  5. Relax Take It Easy
  6. Any Other World
  7. Billy Brown
  8. Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)
  9. Stuck In The Middle
  10. Happy Ending/Over My Shoulder
  11. Ring Ring

  1. More so than “Penny Lane”, “Billy Brown” immediately calls to mind Queen’s “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon” – and the character could well be a distant cousin of Freddie Mercury’s Leroy Brown of “Bring Back That Leroy Brown” on Queen’s ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ album. I can only imagine that Freddie Mercury is looking down on Mika, smiling, and applauding madly.

    Bob    Feb 20    #