On Life in Cartoon Motion, his giddy debut, Londoner Mika is an amalgam of nearly every saucy Brit to falsetto his way down the pop pike, from Freddie Mercury to Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears. C’mon, play the matching game! What is ”Big Girl”? An update of Queen’s ”Fat Bottomed Girls”! How about ”Relax”? A Bee Gees-ish shout-out to Frankie Goes to Hollywood! Nothing quite matches the crystal-shattering exuberance of hit ”Grace Kelly,” but singing along doesn’t get much cheerier than with this Cartoon. .
Mika's vivid, aptly named debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, borrows and builds on the glittery, glamorous, and not-so-secretly sentimental musical territory carved out by Elton John and Freddie Mercury, or more recently, Rufus Wainwright and the Scissor Sisters. Fortunately, his name-dropping, shape-shifting pop is usually good, and genuine, enough to come across as eloquent homage rather than blatant thievery or a tired rehash. Mika's singles are his most charming moments, especially the instant sunshine of "Grace Kelly," which crams tap-dancing rhythms, filmic dialogue, Elton's pianos, Freddie's vocal harmonies, and Brian May's guitars into just over three minutes.