Marina And The Diamonds – “Electra Heart” – Review.

30

Marina and The Diamonds returns with a new  album “Electra Heart” and proves that whilst there’s plenty of style, there’s even more substance to be found within Ms Diamandis’ second full length musical offering.  Doubtless there will still be those who will be irked by her seemingly endless array of influences and pop personas and dismiss her as a pretentious “prima donna,” whilst others, raised on the Cowell approved pop template of adhering to Mariah/ Christina style bellowing may find Marina’s  theatrical semi operatic pop a little too off the wall for their bland conservative tastes. And there are of course “The Diamonds,” [her loyal and excitable fans]who one would imagine, may explode with joy when they hear just what she has in store for them.

After she described her début album “The Family Jewels” as a “failure” (?), there would appear to be a lot riding on “Electra Heart.” It’s an album which she’s gone on record as saying was inspired by Valley Of The Dolls”,  touching again on the vacuous nature of the American dream whilst seeking to explore patterns of behaviour via female archetypes. She’s also described it as an “ode to dysfunctional love” (is there any other kind?  Wink )  OK, we admit, after reading the previous two sentences in one sitting you could be forgiven for thinking “well it does sound a tad pretentious?” but let’s face it conceptually,  Ziggy Stardust for example, was as pretentious as it gets, it was also fucking brilliant.  There’s always a degree of artifice prevalent in most genres, and what Marina strives to do is approach pop from a completely different angle to many of her formulaic pop peers, so if that’s pretentious then bring it on. Credit should also be given for not blatantly trading on her obvious good looks in an age when Beyoncé’ and Rihanna seem willing to shake their bootilicious booties for the sake of a free pack of gum and a Greggs pastie. And just maybe in the process Marina is making music that isn’t quite as disposable and throwaway as your average pop chart fodder (the mooted acoustic version of the album would  adroitly prove this point .)

And so to the heart of the matter, is the music any good?  We confess we weren’t particularly enamoured by her first outing since “The Family Jewels” in the form of  the “Radioactive” single (which is only available on the deluxe edition of “EH”) it wasn’t a bad song per se, had an aesthetically pleasing  video, but was slightly generic and, well, rather dull .  The first song we heard from “Electra Heart” was ” Homewrecker” and again admittedly it wasn’t quite love at first listen.  However we needn’t have worried , “Electra Heart” is a sumptuous pop album and vastly superior to the dreadful lifeless mass produced pap that is the staple diet of “4 Music” (has there been a more depressing, anodyne music channel?) Stylistically and lyrically its a Neil Armstrong style step forward from “The Family Jewels,”  right from the off, the playful stomping camp poptrash of opener “Bubblegum Bitch” the album rarely puts a foot wrong.  Her decision  ( which was initially taken with some trepidation by all accounts) to team up with  a hot shot production team (Rick NowelsMadonna, Stevie Nicks, Lykke Li,  Dr. LukeKaty Perry, Liam HoweSneaker Pimps and Greg KurstinKylie)  has paid dividends and has given the album a slick, premier league shimmer. Essentially it hasn’t stripped her of her idiosyncrasies, watered down her vision or turned her into a bland pop puppet in the process. True, the vocal ticks and barking mad “cuckoo” hollering is toned down as this is a more reflective, melancholy, still snarky, but less in your face Marina but her personality is stamped all over the album. I guess some listeners relationship with the album will be defined by whether they find that particular personality engaging or infuriating, but hey, ho that’s life, you can’t expect absolutely everybody to like or “get you.”  “Lies” is sublime, “State Of Dreaming” and “Power And Control” show a new found maturity in terms of her song writing, and have “hits” written all over them, whilst live favourite “Living Dead”  sounds more like edgy alternative, electro new wave than it  does balls out pop. “Teen Idle” takes over were songs such as the achingly beautiful  “Rootless” and “Numb” from her début left off, and if all pop sounded as good as “Hypocrite” Simon Cowell would wave a little white flag and live out his remaining days tanning his big fat floppy man-tits on a tropical island far, far away from popular music.

Vocally Marina sounds stunning throughout and has produced a commercial pop album, which conversely actually contains too many great moments to be dismissed by sniffy purists as simply a “commercial pop album.”

A broadsheet newspaper once made the assertion that Girls Aloud were the pop group it was “OK”  for the intelligentsia to like, which when you think about it is inverse middle class snobbery of the highest order, (notwithstanding the fact they were completely ear shreddingly shite.)  But, y’know it is ok to like Marina, not through knowing pseudo-intellectual hipsterism to be worn like a badge of honour to denote how admirably perspicacious, erudite, eclectic, liberal and open minded you are, but down to the simple fact that it is fucking darn good pop music.

You suspect, even if this album is the massive success it deserves to be, she still won’t be completely happy. This is a good thing, because as we know comfort kills creativity, and “the restless spirit never loses its wings, if sometimes it cannot fly, it is because during those moments the sky vanishes.”  Ok so who’s pretentious now ?  Razz

 

8.5/10

 

Read Our 2009 Interview with Marina and get some free wallpapers HERE

Andy Von Pip

ANDY VON PIP - Founder, editor, writer, reviewer, photographer and all-round good guy at the VPME.com. House photographer for The Academy Music Group, Zuma Press, Event Magazine and Rex Features worldwide. You can check out his photography at Andy Von Pip Photography Has been new music tipster on BBC6 Music, Amazing Radio, and DJ on Strangeways Radio (USA.) Can currently be heard on IWFM Radio. His radio work has been described as sounding like Ian McCulloch on ketamine fused with Ringo Starr. New music tipster on Amazing Radio, moderator for BBC 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson's Fresh on the Net, former member of "BBC's Sound Of" panel. Written and photographic work has appeared in The Quietus, Music Week, Record Of The Day, The Guardian, GIITV, The Sabotage Times, Bido Lito, The Skinny, Louder Than War. Media partner and curator for Liverpool Sound City.

Discussion30 Comments

    • Andy Von Pip

      We are a broad church Mr or Ms Stubby. But we don’t wear it like a badge of honour, we either like it or we don’t.
      I’ve been a supporter of Marina for years, she brings out my inner camp, and everybody has an inner camp Wink
      But I can quite happily listen to bands/artists like The JAMC, Marina,Paloma,Marling,The Ramones, Shampoo,Lush,Big Black and Kratfwerk in one sitting. It’s all music.

  1. I’m buying the album purely on the basis on this line

    “Simon Cowell would wave a little white flag and live out his remaining days tanning his big fat floppy man-tits on a tropical island far, far away from popular music.”
    Hahahahahahahahaha Amazing !

    Enjoyed the interview here too. I like her.

  2. DiamondsR4Eva

    Best review yet. Personally I love Radioactive too and was disappointed it’s not on the album

  3. Haven’t heard the album yet, but you’ve certainly whetted my appetite !

    As a pop fan I like Girls Aloud, a lot of Britney, and Kylie but like you just didn’t think much of Radioactive – as you said it just seemed too generic – as if all of what made Marina interesting as an artist musically had been sucked away, so based on this review I’m now reasonably hopeful that I won’t ahve (fully) fallen out with Marina. Fingers crossed.

    • Andy Von Pip

      Haha we ‘ll leave aside the GA issue other than they were shat out of Uncle Simon’s Satanic bottom. Back to Marina hopefully you will find there’s much to enjoy. As I anticipated, I think some reviewers have got a little too hung up on the conceptual side… and I think that can be a distraction if you let it be, musically Marina hits all the right bases in the main. Whether it will be big, who knows, but its far superior than the bland passionless, blank, empty shite that is seemingly omnipresent in the charts

  4. Alexia Strange

    Nailed it. As you did with The Family Jewels. review I remember Marina tweeted about that review along the lines of “He seems to know what I was saying even more than I do” Lol. Dun it again, great read and the album has some great tunes.

  5. I've read some reviews and frankly my heart was sinking, had I got it so wrong? then I found this and I can smile again..thankyou for confirming I'm not on my own Smile

    • Andy Von Pip

      Andy, thanks, her voice is special, unique even, in terms of modern pop.. But as she doesn’t fit into a box people don’t quite know where to put her. And this pigeon holing is bollocks really, there was a time when pop music didn’t conform, it was the language of “the outsider.” I think I love her because she is genuinely different, and at times it feels like she’s a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. But I think she does actually challenge the status quo.

      Oh and the music is great.

  6. Glass Balloon

    What a gorgeous review. I may take issue with some aspects.. Radioactive is ace, but this is possibly the definitive Electra words ive read so far. Why? Because it does her justice, it takes the time to not dismiss her after two listens. Bloggers do that, so keen to be hip, and “down”not read this site before but i will now, because it seems that you listen, engage and then write

  7. I've read some reviews and frankly my heart was sinking, had I got it so wrong? then I found this and I can smile again..thankyou for confirming I'm not on my own Smile

    • I completely agree, not one single review before this was satisfactory. finally someone who writes what people should be writing instead of trying to sound extra clever (the other reveiwers)

  8. “Beyoncé’ and Rihanna seem willing to shake their bootilicious booties for the sake of a free pack of gum and a Greggs pastie.” Brilliant, also reminds me of a line in the deluxe track ‘Sex, Yeah!’ “Tired image of a star, acting naughtier than you really are.” – Good review.

  9. A very enjoyable review, theres an indefinable quality in Marinas voice which is very appealing.she seems to be loved and loathed in the UK. Maybe its a case of little guls should be seen and not heard? To which we should reply ‘up yours’. As u say shes trying something different but maybe she doent quite fit into any category too easily? Anyhow a fine read and a refreshing change from some of the smart ass reviews ive reqd which miserably fail to capture what MATDisvattempting.

  10. Read some other reviews and they seem like they had of made up their mind that they were gunna give Marina a luke warm review before and didnt even bother listening. Thank you for this review from someone who actually can be bothered listening and gets what pop music and M is all about. x

  11. Finally, a proper review. Not something that’s two sentences long, and focuses more on attacking Marina for “selling out” while failing to say anything about the music itself. God, music journalism has become such a joke these days.

  12. When did there come a point in music when critics didn’t really listen to an album before firing up the Mac notebook typing a load of shit and shouting “next.” Not sure about conveyor belt pop ? Does that begot conveyor belt music journalism ? Some of the reviews out there are so lacking in insight and so lazy that I give up. According to them if you tour with somebody that becomes the lazy comparison, so Marina becomes Katy Perry, by the same anybody who tours with U2 are then compared. That is the laziest journalism possible, Marina sounds nothing like Katy Perry. Thank god for some music blogs which at least seem give a shit about music than proving how clever (or not) they are At least this reviewer seems like they bothered listening to the album and gets whats going on I mean how dare somebody who isn’t Ga Ga have pretensions to try and go at pop from a different tangent. Electra Heart wont change the world, but it is well constructed pop and worth a million “Voices” or American Idols

  13. Pingback: Review: Marina and the Diamonds – Electra Heart « M-E D I A

  14. I thought I’d read a variety of reviews before I attempted to listen to Marina’s new album, but I kind of wish I hadn’t now. It reads like an album that I’m either going to really enjoy or am going to hate, and that makes me slightly apprehensive about listening to it.

    But thanks for the counterbalance to a lot of not so positive reviews I’ve read! Great stuff.

    • Andy Von Pip

      Looks like it will chart highly, midweek was at number one. Not that high chart placement is in anyway a barometer of quality, but if it was me, I’d probably raise middle finger to some of the more lazy reviews. Wink

  15. OK listened to the album and it really is a jewel. For me it explorers all the laudable aspects of love and relationships, deceit, self loathing, egotism, despair, manipulation and hopelessness all wrapped together in Marina's delicious voice and style. She certainly gets my six inch rocket's attention. Girl you are good-looking and this IS a work of art.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.