MIKA/ “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”/ Review

His debut album “Life In Cartoon Motion” sold 5.6 million copies worldwide.
His 5th album (pictured above) is now available.
Released October 4, 2019 on Casablanca/Republic.

There are few artists that can make you feel good all the time. When you find one they are worth keeping.

MIKA (Mee–Ka) is such an artist. Going back to his debut I found a pop star to hold onto since his lyrics were smart & sincere.

Absorbing his musical influences: Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, & Prince, granted him purchase of pop’s best qualities.

Vocal vulnerability coupled with melodic keyboards are the components of a solid set of songs about longing, love, and true desire.

He has a strong falsetto capable of taking its listener on a ride into a world of technicolor imagery he has seemingly made up in the moment.

“Tiny Love” opens the album with a grand production. Intimacy between people is a huge thing yet to outsiders can look small.

This song sounds like an out take from Queen’s album ‘Jazz’, which is a great feat.

“Ice Cream” was the lead-off single released in May 2019. A perfect summer pop anthem.

You will not find another song more catchy, hooky, and fun to crank up.

“Sanremo” is the 3rd single put out on September 6, 2019. Lovers tripping to their special hideaway.

The click track on this one is trance like. A pleasant tune. Breezy pop drizzle that works well.

A genuine ode to the fragility of attraction. Your mind will be drenched in technicolor after a listen.

Two more singles, ‘Dear Jealousy’ on September 13 and ‘Tomorrow’ on September 20 were released in quick succession.

The former is a thumper of a track. An open letter to that destructive quality of human nature.

Sidling between the blur of one for the clarity of a better future self is spun out in a rinse of a little too much production.

The latter is spacey. A keyboard synth track that creates a playful atmosphere.

Throwing away present worry for tomorrow is backed with a syncopation that snaps nicely.

In this digital climate pop musicians’ labels tend to release a lot of singles in dizzying fashion.

While this album has a lot of great material the production does not always click into place.

The ballads are my least favorite moments. ‘Paloma’ is like a roadblock following the previous light bounce of ‘Ice Cream’.

Mika duets with Italian alt rocker Jack Savoretti on ‘Ready To Call This Love’. The most typical ballad here. Not bad; just middling.

‘Cry’ echoes 80’s Prince. Smooth falsetto vocals layered nicely with synth beats.

‘Platform Ballerinas’ brings the funk. Great hooks and a vocal worthy of Prince & Elton.

‘I Went To Hell Last Night’ is a predictable ballad filled with cliche. Too much of a spiritual for this set.

‘Blue’ is the dullest entry here. Somber as the title suggests. A bring down number of high pitched vocals that are more treacly than deep.

‘Stay High’ is a mover that closes out the album well. A travel tune. Tempered with nice mid range vocal that soars at times.

That’s the biggest problem overall with this collection. The high moments are quite good; the low moments are kind of flat.

The finale is a ‘reprise’ of ‘Tiny Love’. Lush production values including backing choral vocals. It all fades quite nicely.

Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.

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