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Mika's second album dials down excess (just a few hairs) to prove that nothing succeeds like forthrightness. Even more than his three-strip Technicolor debut Life In Cartoon Motion, Boy works best as an Original Cast Recording for a nonexistent musical, or perhaps the soundtrack to a conceptual feature-length video, with our impresario wandering from setup to setup sans any stab at story. Just check out the CD booklet, offering lyrical fragments and spot-on kids' picture-book pinches in a scrapbook layout that raises more questions than answers.

Either above construction has to nail a knockout opening number, and "We Are Golden" slams down horny and snotty enough to make you forget Woodstock. Mika can mock ("Rain") like a sweetly spoiled kid playing smacky-kiss tag with every adult in the room, but his longing ("I See You"), while always projected widescreen, wins you over with touches of restraint around its edges.

The oddest song, "Toy Boy," sums up the gestalt: I was a beloved toy, then I got ignored, abused, blinded, shoved into a box, and no this is not The Velveteen Rabbit, so I just stay in the box. Our man renders sometimes-brutal emotional climates and leaves us to supply our own emotional sensibilities. That puts him way in front of, say, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman, and a few other gassy canisters inflaming the West End and Broadway, even. I'd tell those dodders to move over, but this boy wonder seems satisfied with his day job. They can presumably light up their own sighs of relief.

  • Album title: The Boy Who Knew Too Much (2009)
  • Artist: Mika
  • Label: Casablanca
  • Songs: (1) We Are Golden (2) Blame It On the Girls (3) Rain (4) Dr. John (5) I See You (6) Blue Eyes (7) Good Gone Girl (8) Touches You (9) By The Time (10) One Foot Boy (11) Toy Boy (12) Pick Up Off the Floor
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