Release Date: Oct 16, 2012
Record label: Republic
The PR bumph that comes with Mika's third album breezily suggests it was inspired by Laurel Canyon's dreamy soft rock and Steve Reich's proto-minimalism. If you squint you can just about see it: the sweet strumminess of Lola does have the scent of LA hippy about it, while the title track's looped percussive throb might conceivably have been influenced by Reich. But there's really no need for fanciful comparisons: the fact is, The Origin of Love is simply a good record by one of the UK's more undervalued pop songwriters.
Mika has flirted with dance music and electronic sounds since Life in Cartoon Motion, but on The Origin of Love he commits to it in a much bigger way. This time, Mika worked with dance and pop producers such as Benny Benassi, Pharrell Williams, Klas Åhlund, and Empire of the Sun's Nick Littlemore, as well as his The Boy Who Knew Too Much collaborator Greg Wells, and a song from the album's writing sessions, "Gang Bang," even ended up on Madonna's MDNA album. However, bringing the dance elements to the fore doesn't really suit his music overall, and the largely electronic arrangements lack the warmth, charm, and variety of his two previous albums.
If the title of Mika’s third studio LP The Origin of Love gives you pause, you’re well within reason. This is the same guy who wrote a song about curvaceous women hitting the clubs with diet Cokes in hand (“Big Girl [You are Beautiful]” from Life in Cartoon Motion) and a Disney-ready ditty about being a “Toy Boy” (from The Boy Who Knew Too Much). Mika may write music for a good time, but philosophical exploration is far from his forte, especially considering that even when he gets into primo ballad territory he just ends up copying Journey.
More so than most stars, Mika's appeal rests on his silliness – it was his kitschy poperatics that sent his 2007 hit Grace Kelly global and made his debut album that year's ninth biggest selling. On his third album, however, he seems to have made the mistake of taking things too seriously. That voice – part Elton John, part Freddie Mercury and remaining part small child let loose on helium balloons – pairs uneasily with clubby beats.
The Brit winner’s third album features an array of ace tracks. Tom Hocknell 2012 A Brit Award-winning one-man Scissor Sisters, Mika returns in a less-than-autobiographical mood for this third album. And he’s brought plenty of collaborators with him: Pharrell Williams shows up on Celebrate, Empire of the Sun’s Nick Littlemore writes and produces, and there are credits for Benny Benassi and JLS/Westlife songwriter Wayne Hector.