Mika, "The Boy Who Knew Too Much"
Anyone convinced that Mika burned through his bag of outré art-pop tricks with 2007's action-packed "Life in Cartoon Motion" should prepare to be (pleasantly) surprised. On "The Boy Who Knew Too Much," this Beirut-born singer comes back strong with another set of over-the-top anthems that proves no one's more entitled to inherit Freddie Mercury's glam-god crown. The sound is the same, if perhaps a bit more finely honed. Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett and Madonna collaborator Stuart Price punch up the song "Rain" with loads of disco-folk detail, while Imogen Heap lends her trademark vocal acrobatics to "By the Time." Yet as he did on "Life in Cartoon Motion," Mika never allows the hyperactive arrangements to overpower his message of jubilant defiance. "We are not what you think we are!" he and a ragtag choir holler in the opening track, "We Are Golden." Duly noted.-Mikael Wood