The Musical Magnificence of Mika

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It’s been a long, long time since I’ve purchased an actual CD from a physically-standing store, but on my last visit to Boston I saw the new album by Mika,  ’The Origin of Love,’ in Barnes & Noble, so I picked it up for the car ride home. There are only a few artists whose music I would buy before hearing any of the songs – Madonna, Shirley Horn (sadly no more new music), and James.

On this record, the music sounds like the love child between Daft Punk and Erasure – making it both of-the-moment but also timeless. In other words, an instant classic that manages to sound both completely familiar and entirely new. Such musical magic is difficult to conjure, but Mika has managed to make it happen on all three of his albums to date, progressively revealing a darker yet still-accessible side on cuts like ‘Make You Happy’ or ‘Overrated.’ He continues to craft some of the frothiest pop out there today, as in ‘Popular Song’ (which gleefully borrows from ‘Wicked’) and the gorgeous ‘Kids.’

Such stuff might at first seem tailor-made for over-production and saccharine sweetness, but Mika wisely veers clear of such pitfalls, stripping things down for the title track. Filled with ambivalence, and shot through with treacherous questions on faith and religion, ‘Origin of Love’ is a powerful reminder of the potency of Mika at his best. It begins somewhat slowly for the bombastic guy responsible for such rousing anthems as ‘Grace Kelly’ and ‘We Are Golden’ but it grows into something richer and more lasting.

Even when he’s being snarky and sardonic, as in the beautifully blunt ‘Love You When I’m Drunk,’ the music is so light and bouncy it takes away a bit of the edge, but in doing so lends it a more sinister impact. He may cut you, but it’s going to feel and sound so good you won’t mind as much.

That’s Mika’s greatest weapon: he’s an aural assassin, and his music can slay the staunchest enemy. Any lashing out comes from a displacement of hurt, deliciously disguised as he shuffles along on marvelous melodies and resounding choruses.

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