CD review of Mika's ‘The Boy Who Knew Too Much'

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010



Without a hit single in the United States it's hard to make a big splash in pop music. But no pop album in 2009 sounded better, start to finish, without a true hit single, than Mika's "The Boy Who Knew Too Much," the follow-up to his 2007 debut, "Life in Cartoon Motion." With a sound that brings to mind some wild amalgamation of Rufus Wainwright, Elton John and Electric Six, Mika managed to be both out there and entirely accessible at once. The nonstop hooks and joyous beats pulled you in and the smart wordplay kept your attention throughout.

Mika is also a bit of a style hog. He channels his inner Kate Bush on the dreamy "By the Time," visits campy torch territory with "Pick Up Off the Floor" and delivers his Broadway show tune best on "Toy Boy." Yes, it's all a bit over the top, but it's also magical. If Mika's music were simply pure pop pep, that would be enough. But each song tells a story, amuses, amazes and confidently makes its point.

"He's got looks that books take pages to tell/He's got a face to make you fall on your knees," the 26-year-old Londoner sings on "Blame It on the Girls," a bedazzling, boisterous track that somehow chastises ingrates and celebrates life all at once. The song is typical of Mika's fare: exuberant but also layered; candy-coated but also loaded with meaning. Few modern pop stars have achieved anything close.

-- Joe Heim

Recommended tracks

"We Are Golden," "Blue Eyes," "Blame It on the Girls"

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