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Album Review

Mika, 'The Boy Who Knew Too Much'

October 12, 2009

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Rock
Mika The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Casablanca
ESSENTIAL “By the Time’’
Mika plays the Orpheum Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

If you prefer your pop preternaturally gleeful, Mika is your man. “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,’’ his second kaleidoscopic pile-up, is chock-full of bright, brash anthems. “Teenage dreams in a teenage circus/ Running around like a clown on purpose/ Who gives a damn about the family you come from?/ No giving up when you’re young and you want some,’’ Mika sings on the lead track, his voice sliced and stacked into a zillion Queenly layers, a kids’ choir shouting the song’s title (we are golden!) over soaring keyboards and zinging guitars and crashing drums. After that, the Beirut-born, London-bred tunesmith tones down the razzle-dazzle of 2007’s “Life in Cartoon Motion.’’ Many of these catchy singalongs sport a whiff of subtlety and angst, and while his debt to Elton John, Freddie Mercury, and Scissor Sisters is alive and well, something close to nuance infuses “Blue Eyes’’ and “By the Time,’’ a dreamy collaboration with Imogen Heap. Set-closer “Pick Up Off the Floor’’ dims the Day-Glo dynamic in favor of a torchy glow, suggesting this clever artist is more than the sum of his influences. (Out now)

JOAN ANDERMAN