No Place In Heaven (2015)

No Place In Heaven (2015) shows the other side of something The Origin Of Love (2012) already described. The third album looked at love from every possible direction whereas the fourth album is focused on those emotions and phenomenons that will inevitably follow when we let us fall in love and are totally vulnerable in front of something or someone.

Just loving life means accepting the fact it can end any day. The same way as Underwater on the previous album Last Party is the most powerful song on No Place In Heaven. The song that is based on Freddie Mercury’s story is my personal favourite on the album. The simple black and white music video directed by photographer Peter Lindbergh is strong and intense and different symphony arrangements (officially released on the symphony edition of No Place In Heaven and later on the Versailles album) give the song extra character.

If you could look into the future would you / if you could see it would you even want to / I got a feeling that there’s bad news coming / but I don’t want to find it out

As a child we want to meet the expectations set by our parents, as a parent we struggle not to set any. This complicated relationship is mentioned on the album several times in songs like All She Wants, Good Wife and No Place In Heaven. The title song refers mostly to God (the Father in Heaven) but talks also about distance between people and I find the lyrics in the song some of the saddest in Mika’s music.

In between us an ocean can be found / how long will I swim before I drown / and in between those words we dare not say / do you think that you could learn to love me anyway

Distance has an important role in several songs on the album. Rio is searching possibilities to take distance from our everyday life. Maybe living like someone else could make us somehow better persons. Listening to Rio makes me literally think of going to Rio. The pandemic cancelled my travel plans to Rio the same way it cancelled many other plans but I still have that dream. Maybe I will see Mika performing in Rio one day.

In Staring At The Sun the love is strong but the physical distance in it separates two people in a heart-breaking way. The lyrics are sweet, almost cute “my love is blind from staring at the sun” but the story behind the song is touching and talks about staring at the sun and missing someone who is tragically far away. Darkness is typical for Mika’s music and his songs are rarely how they look at first, there’s always a lot to discover in the story.

Here I stand, staring at the sun / distant land, staring at the sun / you’re not there, but we share / the same one / miles apart, staring at the sun / distant hearts, staring at the sun / one thing’s true, just like you / there’s only one

Several details on No Place In Heaven make me smile. The first track on the album Talk About You introduces us the city we can see in the cover illustrations and describes the feeling we have when we are in the middle of people but see only the one we are in love with. Talk About You works live very well, I always enjoy seeing how that exact moment on stage Mika is the centre of everyone’s attention just like described in the lyrics. Oh Girl You’re The Devil reminds Dr John on the second album. I love the vocals and even though I can’t know the full story my mind starts to create images and thoughts about the weird little cult I imagine hearing in the song.

In Good Guys I pay attention both to the poetic lyrics and the melody yet find the thought behind the song the most interesting. It took a while for this song to grow in me, I was never lucky to have role models or examples in my own life. However, after learning to know the song I see Good Guys as a beautiful and important part of Mika’s personal story and find the thought extremely touching. It’s a key moment in life to move on from searching role models to be one. Good Guys has personal meaning for many people, it’s one of the songs that can give courage in finding a personal path. I rarely care about remix versions but the Good Guys remix in the end of the album is a wonderful surprise.

Sometimes I wonder if the life described in Ordinary Man is a dream of the regular lifestyle but assume “ordinary” refers to the feeling of not being important. In general, No Place In Heaven talks beautifully about several sad themes. The more we love, the more intense the other emotions become as well. The songs on the album express feelings of not being accepted or even being rejected, feelings of not being worthy and sadness because of words that are said. If someone is talented and successful in what they do it doesn’t mean they can’t feel sad or hurt. Of course they can.

When I heard No Place In Heaven for the first time I was shocked I hadn’t seen all the sadness before and then realised it wasn’t revealed this way before. The Boy Who Knew Too Much has a lot of young darkness in it. However, the third album describes the cheerful side of life and it’s only in the fourth one we get deeper in the sadness. All that shows a lot of personal development. It takes courage to separate and say out loud difficult emotions. The fifth album My Name Is Michael Holbrook (2019) talks about the full spectrum of colours in a very personal way.

The bonus songs in the end of No Place In Heaven are true treasures. Promiseland shows a mature version of that determination and charisma Mika became known for in 2007. Even as a bonus song and without any marketing efforts the song became a big natural favourite. Boum Boum Boum from the French edition of the album never fails to make in a good mood and is an excellent live song. Porcelain describes a very special, fragile emotion. Once, when something serious happened in my life, I suddenly couldn’t feel my hands and later thought of Porcelain and how well the song describes a situation like that.

It’s hard to breathe / my knees are weak / it’s a cold path / and I can’t feel my feet / porcelain / it’s the state that I’m in / hold me carefully / just one breath could shatter me

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