Mika’s Life In Cartoon Motion is the album Robbie Williams has been trying to make for years…almost. It’s irreverent, in-your-face, sexually nebulous, and infuriatingly catchy. Lead single “Grace Kelly,” already a hit in the UK, finds Mika proudly displaying the kind of faux self-deprecation Williams strives for, while the next song, “Lollipop,” features a sick-sweet falsetto hook that is, perhaps, irony-free. At this point in the album (track two), it’s hard to tell if Mika is fucking with us or if he takes himself seriously—that is, is he riding the Scissor Sisters wave to something more substantial (he’s only a few feather boas short of being completely obnoxious) or is he just another pretty boy for Elton John to endorse with tongue a-wagging? “My Interpretation” and the slightly more tolerable “Erase” speak to the latter, but, unfortunately, they’re akin to Robbie Williams at his MOR worst. The lovely, classical-influenced “Any Other World” and a hidden piano ballad, in which Mika uses his falsetto more soberly (but with less control), are probably the best songs on the album, but they’re hard to take seriously when everything else is in said cartoon motion—it’s like putting “Praying For Time” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” side-by-side on the same album. Mika fares best when he straddles the fence, as he does on the pseudo-serious “Ring Ring” and “Relax (Take It Easy),” a thumping hodgepodge that references the ‘80s hits “(I Just) Died In Your Arms” and “Relax.” Born in Beirut and raised in Paris and London, Mika wears his myriad influences on his brightly colored sleeve—he even name-drops Freddie Mercury on “Grace Kelly”—and “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” is nothing if not a disco-fied exaltation to Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” The artwork of Life In Cartoon Motion pictures Mika coming off the same star-making assembly line as some of pop’s royalty, which shows he’s got good taste but a lot still to prove.
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