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Life In Cartoon Motion
Mika's wide sonic palette has already been touted (by himself and others) as a trump card, but this listener detected a sizeable gap between ambition and achievement throughout Life In Cartoon Motion.
Kilian Murphy, 13 Feb 2007
Eclecticism and ambition are overrated. Most artists are only capable of excelling in one or two areas, and are at their best when aiming to hone and perfect their strong points.
Lebanese-born, London-based solo artist Mika would be wise to take heed of this on future releases, but that seems unlikely; his wide sonic palette has already been touted (by himself and others) as a trump card, but this listener detected a sizeable gap between ambition and achievement throughout Life In Cartoon Motion.
Mika is better when he keeps things relatively simple and uncluttered, but he only manages to do so on a couple of occasions on this debut album. ‘Relax (Take It Easy)’ is a refreshingly direct disco-pop number, with a splash of Pet Shop Boys-style melancholy and a dashing chorus melody, while the hidden track ‘Over My Shoulder’ is a pleasingly sparse, mournful ballad, built on little more than some gentle piano and synth.
These high points are few and far between though. For the most part, the record is over-eager and overcooked, trying to take in too much in too short a space of time. The opener ‘Grace Kelly’ provides an unwelcome indicator of things to come: laden with unnecessary falsetto, and positively brimming with an irritatingly forced sense of joyousness. The speed with which people tired of The Polyphonic Spree’s tendency to milk this approach has clearly not registered with everyone.
The clunkers come thick and fast. ‘Lollipop’ is overreaching, day-glo gospel-pop, a kiddie choir overstuffing an arrangement that was too full to begin with. ‘My Interpretation’ is airbrushed Robbie Williams-style AOR; hoary, bombastic and lumpen. ‘Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)’ is an obnoxious, unfunny party track, mining similar lyrical territory to Queen’s ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, with even less charm, and without a killer tune to atone for it.
These are early days in Mika’s career, but for now he is an artist whose end product is dwarfed by his ambition.