It’s easy to identify why this album hasn’t made much of a splash. The colourful characterisation and overt theatricality that made Mika’s first albums so appealing has been pushed definitively to the side lines; an attempt to create a more ‘personal’ sound takes centre ground. The result is an album that is fairly consistently disappointing, moving along unmemorable track by unmemorable track through to its conclusion.
The album begins worse than it finishes. ‘Talk About You’ has cute sentiments but the underdeveloped chorus makes the whole track feel rushed. ‘Last Party’ is a bleak, disillusioned song about clubbing – a sort of drunk misery that Mika has decided to impose on us. It definitely isn’t a party. ‘Good Guys’ is possibly the low point, with the artist complaining that he can’t find himself a man he’d be happy with. We lose our patience when half way through he begins to list touchstones for what he’s looking for, including ‘Auden’ and ‘James Dean’.
It isn’t all bad though. Track five, ‘Oh Girl You’re the Devil’, is fun to listen to. The familiar, energetic artist of past albums bounces back, even if it is only for a couple of minutes. This teasing track is cleverly juxtaposed with ‘No Place in Heaven’, a fairly lyrically simple song about religious disillusionment; it isn’t outstanding but its conviction is just about enough to win listeners over. The last real highlight is ‘Rio’. It captures a wanderlust or fear of commitment that might explain precisely why the musician’s style has changed so dramatically. It’s unapologetic and abrasive and this gives it a bit of an edge; whilst musically different, it shares an extraordinary sense of self-confidence that made tracks like ‘Grace Kelly’ and ‘Big Girls’ initially so charming. ‘Ordinary Man’, the album closer, is fairly personal too, but the music itself is excessively plain.
You can tell that the record was written in his kitchen. There’s something very ordinary and simple minded about the album’s content; The lyrics are the kind of half-awake idle chatter you can image the artist having with his sister over the morning coffee. The issue is that these songs don’t really have any appeal to the rest of us, and there’s not much you could do with them on stage. In trying to sound more personal, Mika has only ended up sounding a bit dull.