Mike Robert just released his debut concept album, and it is a pop-rock delight! Called “Hiring Mistakes” the album takes a narrative turn and skillfully combines a acoustic pop sound with great rock segments. The highlight of course is Mike Robert’s strong and dynamic vocals that shine through the music. Although it is called “Hiring Mistakes”, the album feels like a break-up album, but who’s to say? Losing a job seems much like a breakup to me.
The songs are interesting and keep you on your toes. With a 30-minute run time with 12 songs, Mike Robert has carefully curated these succinct narrative and choral pieces which keep pushing the story forward. I started out with the album expecting a “less lovey-dovey Ed Sheeran”, but boy was I pleasantly surprised! The album is explorative and has an unapologetic sense of angst that gets channeled through the rock segments really well.
The first song “Hiring Mistakes” is sort of an introduction to this pop-rock, angst filled musical journey. Like his other music, Mike Robert really likes playing with emotions and moods to really deliver his music. The songs “Bliss pt1” and “Bliss pt 2” are two songs that can summarize the vibe of the entire album. I think the pop-rock juxtaposition in the two songs is very telling of Mike Robert’s different musical personalities.
The way the song “Cold” slowly picks up a rock vibe and becomes heavier on the guitar, especially with the song “Sex”, “Bliss” and “Cheap”. These songs condense a set of feelings that are brilliantly expressed through the guitar riffs and classical rock elements. The song “Cheap” is like a stand-up set and a musical performance in one.
With “Kiss Goodbye” the album deconstructs itself to its original pop-acoustic feel. The heavier music is stripped away in exchange for some honest, emotive lyrics and Mike Robert’s beautiful vocals really hitting the mark. He also mentions in the beginning of this song, that he hasn’t played it since he was 17. The rest of the album with the songs “In my magic”, “Less Real”, “One to Another” and “Erase you” take you on a sort of healing journey, where the angst is being stripped away.
What is fascinating about Mike Robert is the brilliant pacing and the way he uses this silences and pauses in his songs. They are often backed by a chorus or a harmony, or even his own narrative. It feels like he’s stopping the world to try and express his feelings to you. They have a poignant sense of clarity that reveals itself in these moments.
In my opinion, “One to Another” is the hidden gem of the album. It is honest and converges all the frustration and angst of the entire album into a single moment of relating to people. His vocal range is reflected in this song and pushes the entire album to a new level. The honesty of the music is sure to make you introspective of all your relationships.
The album ends on a rather sad but peaceful note with the song “Erase you”. This song was the real reason I called “Hiring Mistakes” a breakup album. It takes you through all the five stages of grief and some more. It lets you express your rage and anxieties, and then it brings you safely back to the point of closure. “Erase you” is the real peacemaker, and it definitely leaves you wanting more.
Mike Robert has executed his vision brilliantly, with “Hiring Mistakes”. This one is a must-listen! His voice and potential to deliver a great concept has paved the way for him. I look forward to more Mike Robert and his beautiful vocals.