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Mika Gets Serious with ‘The Origin of Love’

If there was ever a musical antidote to a bad mood, Mika would be it. The British singer/songwriter who brought the world such peppy hits like “Grace Kelly” and “Love Today” is back with even more fluffy pop songs.

For those who may be unfamiliar with him, Mika, born Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr., burst onto the pop scene with 2007’s Life in Cartoon Motion, an album that skyrocketed the musician to the top of the charts selling more than 5.6 million copies worldwide.

Two years later he released The Boy Who Knew Too Much which made for a delightful follow-up album for both critics and fans. Now, with his third album entitled The Origin of Love, Mika is hoping once again to strike chord amongst listeners.

The first thing one will notice when listening to The Origin of Love is that this is not the Mika of yesteryear. This is not the man who made a name for himself selling kitschy poperatics and happy-go-lucky fluff. Origin of Love portrays a more serious artist, someone who has matured with the turbulent times of the nation.

In an interview with Digital Spy, Mika spoke about the direction he aimed to take with the new album stating it as “more simplistic pop, stripped-down and less layered than the last one.” The Origin of Love is indeed stripped down. Instead of the part dog whistle/part helium balloon vocals we are used to, Mika favors a more controlled approach, utilizing a subdued tone and restrained melodies.

This is not to say that the album doesn’t have its fair share of fun. Balancing out the stripped-down pop tunes and softer tracks are songs bursting with clubby beats and auto-tuned vocals. Mika even sought the assistance of hip hop beat master Pharrell Williams for the track “Celebration.” The collaborations don’t stop there either. Industry veterans’ Benny Benassi and Greg Wells (of Adele and Katy Perry fame) also worked with Mika.

The album, rather audaciously I might add, enlists the talents of unsigned singers Mika discovered online, as well. This is a daring move that surprisingly pays off. The addition of multiple collaborations greatly helps the album maintain a consistent level of fun while also insuring that each track has its own unique vibe and originality.

The Origin of Love is a mostly solid album. It may not be as captivating and addictive as Life in Cartoon Motion, but it gets respectably close. Connoisseurs of Mika’s music will find much to like here and although some tracks fall flat, Origin of Love is well worth a listen.

Critic’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Eric Duffert can be reached at eduffert@aol.com.

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