Review Summary: Classy. Funny. Happy. Life in Cartoon Motion.Life in Cartoon Motion
is the debut album by Mica "Mika
" Penniman. And what a debut album 'tis.
You might have heard the single, "Grace Kelly". A really catchy and upbeat melody, with Mika's impressing voice singing about how he has "... gone identity mad
". It's basically about how you need to change your appearance and sound in order to attract major labels, "I could be brown/I could be blue/I could be violet sky/I could be hurtful/I could be purple/I could be anything you like
". This song is one of the songs on this album that isn't necessarily especially happy from the starting point... but. It makes you (the listener) happy anyway! That is kind of the keyword here: happy!
'Cause this guy Mika, he's a real flowerkid. His voice can best be described as the one of Freddie Mercury
, if he'd inject lots of helium before going into the studio. The phalsettos are absolutely stunning at times. The music can best be described as upbeat, harmonic and pleasant - most of the time. The lyrics are... special. But all in a good way 'course. From the tale of the man who has it all, but suddenly turns out to be gay in "Billy Brown", to the big girls homage in "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful" - an incredibly fun (and happy!) tune, in which Mika shouts to the big girl in the restaurant ordering diet coke "Diet coke?/I'm on my knees screaming/big girl you are beautiful!
". A border-line genius moment. Hilarious indeed.
The whole album is. Hilarious, I mean. It's just funny to listen to. You're bound to be smiling by the end of "Lollipop" (and probably earlier than that), where Mika tells you that "Love's gonna get you down
". Not very cheerful lyrics, but still... happy, happy, happy! The song actually features the Spoon Orchestra of Chiswick
, led by Mika, who adds a lot to the more... errr... "normal" (or - more normal than the rest of the album) alternrock sound of this album.
Because on most of this album there's vocals, keyboard and/or piano, guitar, drums and bass. Traditional alternrock. But all in a very skillfull and unique way. Upbeat pleasant drumming, pleasingly good basslines that rarely plays the same thing as the equally pleasing guitarriffs. The guitarrifs e.g. towards the end of "Grace Kelly" and "Love Today" will definitely have you thinking of Queen
, considering Mika's Freddie-like voice and all. Those two songs along with "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" are not only maybe the funniest and happiest moments on the record, they're also some of the best. All three songs are unbelievably catchy as well as amazingly happy and incredibly funny. You'll find yourselves headbanging to the cheezy "Love Today". If not from the very start, then surely when the chorus - "Everybody's gonna love today, gonna love today
", kicks in.
And to add a bit of variation to the album - there's some tracks that sounds like they're from some other, totally different artist - if it wasn't for Mika's very recognizable voice. The song "Relax (Take It Easy)" is a IDM meets pop-like, upbeat track with a disco-like bassline and a funky guitarriff in the background on the choruses, plus some very atmospheric and nice programming. Mika sounds more castrated than ever, singing "It's as if I'm scared/It's as if I'm terrified/It's as if I scared/It's as if I'm playing with fire
Another stand-out track is the next track on the album - "Any Other World". Containing lots of strings, and Mika's voice and his keyboard. I guess it's kind of a ballad, with ultra-sad lyrics like "Say goodbye to the world/you thought you lived in/take a bow/play the part/of a lonely lonely heart/say goodbye to the world/you thought you lived in/to the world you thought you lived in
". But how come that such a sad song makes you feel so happy? It's really quite a question. Mika seems to make you feel happy, no matter what he's singing about. A rare talent. Even towards the end, with the beautiful strings, the passionate background choir and Mika singing his heart out - it makes you feel good!
There are two other songs that are different from the rest, and those two tracks are "Happy Ending" - Another ballad-like sad song, and the magic "Over My Shoulder" - consisting of Mika's voice, piano/keyboard, and Alexander Miller's backing vocals. This song is the most intimate song on the whole album. A very good song, that'll definitely affect you in some way. I don't dare say that it'll make you happy - 'cause, guess what - this song is actually very, very, very sad. It's the complete opposite of the rest of the album. This song is so different from the rest of the album in mood and tone, that they really are almost oxymora. An excellent track.
But the album ends in the more familiar flowerkid style with "Ring Ring". Another happy, happy, happy track. Cool sampling, awesome vocals and wonderful acoustic and electric guitar. A perfect ending to this happy, happy, happy album. This is an album that'll definitely suprise you. No matter what you're expecting. But all in a good way.
A great alternrock track with edgy guitarrifs towards the end, and poisonous catchy lyrics. 5/5
A weird track. Starting off almost hip-hop-like. Great lyrics and an overall very happy track. 4.5/5
Kind of a ballad, with acoustic guitar and intimate lyrics. A nice change from the more upbeat opening. 4/5
Queen, anybody? A wonderful song. Great lyrics. Extremely catchy. Lovely edgy guitar and incredible vocal-performance. 5/5
"Relax, Take it Easy"
This track really makes me feel comfortable. It's laid back, but the funky guitar catches your attention. 5/5
"Any Other World"
Nice little balladish track with great string arrangements and a passionate vocal-performance. 3.5/5
Classy as Rufus Wainwright at his best. A tune that will require a few listens. But once you get it - you'll love it. 4/5
"Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)"
The big girl homage... Very catchy... Very cool... Very good. 5/5
"Stuck in the Middle"
Like "Billy Brown", this is a classy song that'll require a few listen. But a nice song with an awesome vocal-performance, and a great catchy melody" 3.5/5
Little bit of love... Little bit of love... Little bit of love... Little bit of love... Little bit of love... 5/5
"Over my Shoulder"
Sad one, this. Very intimate and personal. Stunning vocal-performance. 5/5
A fine albumcloser to a fine album. Very cool sampling with equally cool vocals and rhythm guitar. 4/5
The album: 4. Excellent. The best album so far this year.