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Music Review: Mokita – Answers Within Earshot

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"See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil," say the three monkeys on the Mokita website. True enough; a quick listen to the debut album Answers Within Earshot confirms that you won’t be doing any of these things after experiencing music as smoothly blended as this.

Mokita was born in Glasgow, but spent a lot of his youth in Bahrain in the Middle East. Now he is based in London and is collaborating with producer Mike Nielsen (Jamiroquai, and Underworld), Matt Foster (Gorillaz), and Mark Richardson who along with Ace worked with Feeder.  

Mokita has already garnered attention in the UK, Germany, and Australia as well as having achieved recognition on the Record Of The Day website with two songs earning the distinction. He soon hit Number One on the Indie Store download chart and his music was featured on the (ironically titled) compilation CD, The Greatest Music You’ve Never Heard, Vol 2.

That will soon change, though, as Mokita is set to be heard by a far wider audience. Supporting the likes of Beth Rowley and playing at venues such as the London Astoria 2, Dingwalls, and Glasgow’s famed King Tut’s, underlines the foundation of that quickly growing reputation.  

The debut album Answers Within Earshot contains enough quality to all but demand radio airplay. It has a finely balanced blend of bittersweet lyrics set around some sublime emotional shifts.

For the album, lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, and programmer Mokita is joined by drummer Wesley Gibbens, bassist Alex McElhinney, and Jessica Cox's atmospheric cello and keys. The result is a CD of disarmingly intimate pop ambience.

The opening track, "Answers," acts as a perfect illustration of this with its use of subtle programming, topped by Mokita's honey smooth vocals. "Older," written around an infectious hook, seems radio perfect.

"Wherever I Fall" provides an early album highlight that just refuses to fade from the mind with its perfect pop styling that is both impressively understated and, more importantly, memorable. "Wonderland" continues with a similar deftness of touch amid a now familiar warm glow.

All of this leads the way for the outstanding "Just," another radio friendly track with more than a touch of James Blunt about it. It is, however, delivered in Mokita’s, by now, distinctively polished style.

"Why?" builds nicely upon a gentle drum loop and seductive cello, before tapping into a little more Blunt territory with another well-crafted piece of songwriting. 

Indeed, there are attention grabbing songs at every tasteful turn. The easy, nicely paced “Two Words” is most definitely one of them. The melancholic “Pieces” opens amid background sounds of a busy restaurant, and builds into a piece of near pop perfection. It is all the more effective for it's minimalistic use of instrumentation.

The wistful “Eye For An Eye” ensures that there are no dips in quality. An alternative version of "Wherever I Fall" closes an album that manages to give the impression of being a future greatest hits collection rather than a promising debut. Such is the strength of the set.

Mokita clearly has a natural talent for writing gently satisfying pop whilst setting his standards high. No wonder this has been sold to retail outlets across the world. If you feel good, you will buy. If you buy, you will feel good. There we have it, retail and musical therapy meeting in the most satisfying way possible.

Mokita is a name to remember, especially if you like smooth contemporary pop styling and some memorable songwriting. Have a listen at Mokita's official website or his Myspace page.

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About Jeff Perkins