MIKA’s fifth studio album, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”, is a full dive backward into the energy of his earlier albums. Rather than being full of a predictable medley of pop tunes, however, MIKA’s latest release manages to balance the light and shade of life and love throughout its thirteen tracks. Musically, you can expect the use of lots of synths, piano, and experimental rhythms.
My Name Is Michael Holbrook
“My Name Is Michael Holbrook” was released last Friday, October 4th, through Casablanca and Republic Records. Before its release, a total of five singles were released earlier this year between the end of May and September. These were, in order: “Ice Cream”, “Tiny Love”, “Sanremo”, “Dear Jealousy”, and “Tomorrow”.
With this album, MIKA dives deep into the personal, with themes of love, sexuality, and identity pervading. But despite the personal subject matter, MIKA manages to bring together a collection of songs that go past the personal, and hit the universal time and time again.
While “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” is, as a whole, overwhelmingly positive, it does contain a few tracks that show off a more contemplative gloom from the pop singer. In the song, “Paloma”, for instance, MIKA reflects on the near-death experience of his sister. In an interview with Edge Media Network, he goes into more detail on the experience and the song.
“It’s about my sister and it’s about the night that I found her on railings having fallen from the window of the fourth floor of her apartment… And I’m standing barefoot in my boxers.And she’s dying on the railing. And I’m looking at her, at that situation… when I started writing about it… there was beauty in the fact that I saw her there in the most grotesque situation… She survived, that’s why it’s easier to see the beauty in it.”
During my listen of MIKA’s “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”, these were a few of the tracks that stood out to me the most. These are the songs I foresee coming back to time and time again.
“Tiny Love” is the opening track to “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”, and it surely earns its place by being possibly the strongest song on the entire album. It starts off slow and inviting, with just MIKA and his piano. But it soon transitions into a more driving and upbeat rhythm that catapults you into the bombastic chorus.
In “Tiny Love”, you can clearly hear the influences that Freddie Mercury and Queen had on MIKA. From his vocal inflections, to the very structure of the song itself, the similarities are undeniable. It’s a success as both a tribute to Mercury, as well as an authentic expression of MIKA’s own voice.
“Platform Ballerinas” is an equally heavy and poppy tribute to feminism, in defense of women who are attacked or put down because of the way they dress or act. It’s the empowering MIKA track for this album, with lyrics attacking the beauty standards and expectations that society pushes on women to act “girly”. The highlight line for this highlight track is the often repeated phrase, “Cause that don’t make her less of a girl”.
But MIKA doesn’t just rely on a socially progressive message to make the song work. The upbeat, dancy synths help it stand head and shoulders above a lot of the other songs. If I were to predict a new dance anthem to sweep the country, I’d definitely keep “Platform Ballerinas” in the running.
This track gets an honorable mention for being one of the more catchy songs on the album. It’s refreshingly bright, poppy synths mesh well with an accompanying acoustic guitar that brings out a dose of Latin flair.
Overall, “Sanremo” is a song that encompasses the central feeling that “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” pushes out to the world. That feeling is glorious, blissful, and carefree, and it permeates from the beginning to the end of this album.
“My Name Is Michael Holbrook” features classic MIKA magic, with a pounding pulse that brings out the love found in its lyrics like a heartbeat. While there are several tracks sprinkled throughout the album that focus more on the gloom than the glory, they serve almost as palate cleansers more than anything else. They’re there to bring the mood back down, reminding us all for a moment of reality before pulling the covers back over us with another comforting and blissful track.
So if you’re in the mood for some uplifting tunes, there probably isn’t a better contemporary album out there right now that can do the job better than MIKA’s “My Name Is Michael Holbrook”.