Christy Ku is unsympathetic with an on and off attempt from falsetto famous Mika, No Place In Heaven.
“maybe try… not staring at the sun and burning your retinas?”
No Place In Heaven
22 June 2015, Virgin
With a vocal range we mere mortals can only achieve with helium and croaky cold throats, Mika is back with his fourth studio album No Place in Heaven. Bursting into mainstream pop in 2007 with his hit single ‘Grace Kelly’, his music is the audio version of Cloud Cuckoo Land from The Lego Movie. His debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, came like a flamboyant rainbow; polarizing opinions, topping charts and causing indie hipsters to huddle into their plaid shirts.
His albums have been evolving from the youthful debut, maturing through teenage dreaminess in The Boy Who Knew Too Much to the simpler and more grownup The Origin of Love.
No Place in Heaven is a mixed album. It’s more melancholy and thoughtful, like it’s about to go to university and is leaving behind all familiar things. The album is still piano heavy with choirs, and Mika uses lower vocals more frequently than his signature falsettos. But, at times the album lacks energy and is more subdued. The tracks generally sound the same with a similar vibe and there are very few standout songs.
The album has a promising start with ‘Talk About You’ as Mika croons about moving on to the background of bouncy piano riffs. However, ‘Last Party’ feels misplaced in the album. It’s a call for an apocalypse party and doesn’t feel like a third track song. ‘Staring at the Sun’ is another weak track full of clichés where he sings about being blinded (maybe try… not staring at the sun and burning your retinas?).
Mika occasionally brings it back. ‘Oh Girl You’re the Devil’ and ‘Rio’ are jaunty catchy songs with layers of diverse vocals, and ‘All She Wants’ has a mix of happy hand claps, xylophones and shots of doo-wop whilst singing about disappointing the women in his life.
‘Good Guys’ is one of few good ballads on the album, but the low number of them was disappointing as Mika is a great lyricist (most of the time – “I’m going to Rio/Say goodbye to me-oh” is not the best poetry in the world). He has the ability to build characters with his music, so we never know if it’s about him or someone made up. The stories he creates are like little worlds you can explore, which wasn’t done as well in this album.
No Place in Heaven is an enjoyable listen; however fans of his previous work may be disappointed with the lack of unapologetically jubilant fun and beautiful ballads.