Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mika - The Origin Of Love

Three years ago, Mika released his sophomore album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much.  Looking back on the recording process, Mika has stated that it wasn't a pleasant experience.  He expressed that the general mood was less than desirable, mainly due to being overly encompassed by the music.  This time around, Mika ran in the opposite direction.  He surrounded himself with like-minded people; musicians, collaborators, a support team.  The result is almost a rediscovery of character, an image reassessment.  I don't want to say it's a return to some former glory, because the downfall of Mika never happened.  The Origin Of Love is, however, an album of significance.

The title track is placed at the front of the album, immediately setting the record's theme.  The majority of this album is still dripping with that signature "Mika" sound.  He hasn't necessarily stepped away from what kickstarted his career in the first place.  It's just that, for the most part, this album is the introduction to a changed and more mature Mika.  Both Life In Cartoon Motion and The Boy Who Knew Too Much featured incredibly mature tracks, but from the artwork to the musical decisions, The Origin Of Love is a step forward into a new chapter of Mika's sound.

As one could guess, love is the common factor between these songs.  Falling in love, falling out of love, relationships in general, it reaches almost every inch of the topic.  I'm reminded of Patrick Wolf's Lupercalia record.  Prior to its release, Patrick had written both childish love songs and significantly darker material as well, but he hadn't created an album so focused and determined on the topic of love.  When he finally did release Lupercalia, it was brilliant.  Mika is in a somewhat similar boat and The Origin Of Love contains some of his greatest accomplishments yet.

"Lola" is a prime example of simple yet effective pop.  It showcases Mika's falsetto in a way that's drastically different from past songs such as "Lollipop".  It's one of the less electronic tracks on the album, constructed of organic sounds.  Some of the songs that are more dance oriented succeed just as well.  "Emily", the English version of "Elle me dit", is fantastic and so is the lead promotional track "Make You Happy".

While The Origin Of Love is consistent in idea, it's across the map in genre. Overall, I would call it pop, but pop is probably the broadest label one could give music.  The chorus of "Step With Me" calls back to the stylings of 90's and early '00's UK radio hits.  The piano intro to "Underwater" sounds strikingly similar to "Set Fire To The Rain" by Adele, but manages to shed that thought by the time it's over.  "Popular Song" and "Celebrate" might've already been hit singles if they had been released by a big brand name.  "Love You When I'm Drunk" is really the only song that ventures too close towards the border of awkwardness, and that's due to the relentless repetition of the title line.

Mika's first two albums had a distinct kitschy touch to them.  I feel like he became pegged into that box by audiences based on the success of his singles.  I shouldn't discredit those albums  They deserve great praise, but The Origin Of Love sounds like the growth of an artist.  Mika hasn't recreated "Grace Kelly" or played towards a familiar formula.  You can be a serious musician and still play with outrageous dance music, you just need to be sincere about it.  Don't stop halfway through the door, jump all the way in.

The Origin Of Love is available now as a standard fourteen track album and a two disc deluxe edition with nine extra songs.  The second disc contains acoustic arrangements, remixes, and two non-album tracks; the original French version of "Elle me dit" and "Ta Dah".  If you wish to purchase the standard album, go here.  To get the double album, head this way.

1 comment:

  1. Love Mika : Love Mika Music . . . A LOT !