Mika
The Boy Who Knew Too Much


3.0
good

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
October 1st, 2009 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A wagging middle finger to all his detractors and a beckoning to his fans to come indulge in more guilty pleasures.

It’s rare to find a pop star who inspires just as much virulent hatred as he does fervent support, but Lebanese-born British pop star Mika is just that star. Maybe it’s his ridiculously outsized personality, indubitably perfect for a man whose closest artistic influences are Freddie Mercury and Elton John (never the most reserved at a party); maybe it’s his flamboyantly theatrical music, jam-packed with the kind of sprightly anthems and day-glo colors that hipsters love to hate; most likely it’s just the whole package, a wildly creative, bisexual artist who seems to have no inhibitions when it comes to his music or the stage yet still sold a stunning six million copies of his debut, largely thanks to mainstream pop fans. Not surprisingly, Mika has done just what many expected him to do on his sophomore effort, again pulling out all the stops in creating a vivacious record fairly bursting with energy, a wagging middle finger to all his detractors and a beckoning to his fans to come indulge in more guilty pleasures.

Chances are if you liked Mika before, you’ll love The Boy Who Knew Too Much. The necessary corollary to that, of course, is if you hated Life in Cartoon Motion, well… let’s say there probably won’t be too much to like here. Unfortunately, it is this split in opinion that makes The Boy Who Knew Too Much only a middling success as an album. While Mika should be commended for creating yet another record of supercharged, operatic pop music, one practically overflowing with bells, whistles, and that flawless falsetto, it’s essentially a more polished version of his debut, resplendent in multi-part Queen-esque harmonies and Scissor Sisters gender-swapping lyrics. From the children’s choir backing of outsized opener “We Are Golden,” to the Elton John piano and tribal drums on “Blue Eyes,” to the bombastic, overly cheesy production on syrupy ballad “I See You,” it’s the best and worst of everything we’ve come to expect from Mika over the course of twelve songs.

But put aside Mika’s utter lack of creative restraint and habit of whamming one in the skull with his lyrically unvarnished messages, and The Boy Who Knew Too Much reveals, from track to track, the heart and soul of a natural-born songsmith. While there’s nothing here as immediately grabbing as “Grace Kelly,” plenty come close. The best of them come in twos: the double punch of “Blame It On The Girls” and “Rain” comes first, the former dashing into a syncopated piano/handclap stomp and the kind of memorable chorus that even haters will find impossible to ignore, while the latter alternates between trippy verses and a synthtastic chorus that highlights Mika’s spiraling falsetto. “Good Gone Girl” and “Touches You,” meanwhile, are two of the most straightforward pop tunes on the record, featuring the requisite amount of piano, glam-rock choruses, and massive hooks that just won’t quit. Best of all, they keep the grandiosity to a minimum, instead relying on their effortless melodies and coming out the better for it.

It’s a shame that Mika still wastes his time on frivolous exercises like the vapid metaphor of “Toy Boy” and continues to inflate so many good ideas with unnecessary production and hammy performances like “We Are Golden,” but The Boy Who Knew Too Much is nothing if not a pop album that harbors no illusions about itself. Mika will never be the kind of artist to change his style as tastes evolve, and so it’s heartening to hear songs like the haunting ballad “By The Time” and the lounge-y closer “Pick Up Off The Floor,” where Mika teases with hints of what he might be capable of. But then the full orchestra comes in on “Pick Up Off The Floor,” the army of cloned harmonies build up, that falsetto goes where it wants to, and we’re left, for better or worse, with the Mika of today.



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user ratings (53)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2009


10455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

why does album art suck so hard nowadays


too bad strikey isn't around to read this, he inspired me

Digging: Cymbals Eat Guitars - LOSE

Douglas
October 1st 2009


9110 Comments


Strikey quote: So much hatred. I saw him on Jools Holland a while before Grace Kelly was released (unsure whether he was unsigned or not) and thought he was incredibly impressive singing that song just him and a piano; he's far too gay for my liking now, everything's so camp it's retarded, and Big Girls is one of the most irritating songs ever written :P


Anyway good review as per usual!

Digging: The Preatures - Blue Planet Eyes

Waior
October 1st 2009


11452 Comments


I really wish the album art would show up, I was hoping to be greeted by some tremendously flamboyant/awful album cover one again.

I thought that one single was good but all his other stuff is miss and match.

Douglas
October 1st 2009


9110 Comments


Yeah the single wasn't to bad.

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2009


10455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

word to everything said above

will be my last review for a while, taking a drinking sabbatical

AtavanHalen
October 1st 2009


17927 Comments


We Are Golden is so good

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2009


20857 Comments


I liked his vocals on 'Aim & Ignite', but... What? What do you mean, it wasn't him?

Go on, put it in the 'Reco by Reviewer' section... just for Strikey!

Nice concise review Rudy.

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2009


10455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

good call davey, done

qwe3
October 2nd 2009


21362 Comments


oooh i'm a bit of a sucker for mika, which might sound stupid but true. will be checking this out

AtavanHalen
October 2nd 2009


17927 Comments


I liked his vocals on 'Aim & Ignite', but... What? What do you mean, it wasn't him?

You are joking, right?

BSX
October 2nd 2009


1633 Comments


Everybody's gonna love today (that way I'll get a piece of At(a)vanHalen)

P.S. What's up with the album art not showing up?

AtavanHalen
October 2nd 2009


17927 Comments


atvan?

BSX
October 2nd 2009


1633 Comments


Sorry I misspell when I'm tired. . . that or the jugs distracted me

qwe3
October 2nd 2009


21362 Comments


go with the jugs

BSX
October 2nd 2009


1633 Comments


Hmmm jugs

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2009


20857 Comments


Nope, not joking at all. First time I heard .fun, Mika immediately came to mind. You & Strikey can deny it all you want. But the comparison is legitimate. Just remember that I had not really heard anything from The Format at that time. And like I have said elsewhere, there is a huge difference in the lyrics though.

BSX
October 2nd 2009


1633 Comments


Light a roman candle with me!

AtavanHalen
October 2nd 2009


17927 Comments


The comparison is about as legit as Daisy and In Utero; you're a fucking idiot

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2009


20857 Comments


u r

AtavanHalen
October 2nd 2009


17927 Comments


Hey guyz ever noticed how much Lady Gaga sounds like Ben Folds



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