Monday, 30 April 2012
Marina and the Diamonds - Electra Heart
Marina and the Diamonds is a curious pop star, her lyrics are full of evidence of her insecurities juxtaposed with her arrogance, slipping between ironic and painfully truthful. ‘Electra Heart’ is the follow up to her debut album ‘The Family Jewels’ and is based around a pop persona called Electra Heart who Marina described as ‘the antithesis of everything that I stand for’. But listening to the album you can’t help but wonder if there’s more of Marina in there than she makes out.
You can hardly fault her for her bold attempts to strive for pop martyrdom. In an age where ambition is frowned upon as arrogance, Marina has consistently come out stating her aims for top ten hits and number one albums, a sentiment echoed on the new album. ‘Electra Heart’ is jammed full of pop songs, some of which are magnificent, others less so. It’s been described as a break up album but if it is, it’s the most twisted break up album ever written all about power games and striving for success. Highlights have to be the bombastic ‘Homewrecker’ featuring Pet Shop Boys-esque spoken word verses and ‘Primadonna’, everything a pop song should be. ‘Lies’ is beefed up with far too many synthesizers until it is almost unrecognisable from the heartbreaking acoustic version, but somehow the song writing manages to pull it off.
When Marina’s good, she blows everyone out the water, which makes it all the more noticeable when she’s mediocre. In her drive for mainstream popularity and attempt to find a ‘big’ sound, she loses sight of the wider picture. Her sound is biggest when the songs are stripped down to their bones and left to speak for themselves, not hidden under layers of club music. ‘Teen Idle’ is simpler than some of the tracks nearer the beginning of the album, more accurately reflecting the sound from ‘The Family Jewels’ and ‘Fear and Loathing’ shows Marina’s remarkable voice at its best, while ‘Starring Role’ manages to sum the whole thing up with the lyric “you don’t love me/big fucking deal”. However noticeable disappointments like ‘Power and Control’ and ‘Living Dead’ taint the overall atmosphere of the album.
It is fair to say that Marina and the Diamonds divides opinion, from being called the ‘Welsh Katy Perry’ to the ‘greatest living popstar ever, except maybe Beyonce’ (ok that last one was just me); the point is that she prompts people to hate or love her music, to discuss it and moan about it, which is surely better than bored apathy. And at the end of the day there are more good songs on this album than bad ones.
Marina and the Diamonds: the marmite of pop music.