Marina Is Made of Diamonds
Marina Diamandis’ first album, “The Family Jewels,” is slightly chaotic, like any first album. It showcased her wide range of styles, from minimalist vocal-driven pop to thumpy dark pop to lyric-centric pop culture analysis. It was good and it was all over the place, but that was okay. Her latest album, “Electra Heart,” is not at all like that.
For one, it’s much more thematically consistent. The album dives headfirst into the psyche of heart-drop tattooed fictional character Electra Heart, a product of pure American pop culture with a ’60s aesthetic. It focuses on Electra’s four main character traits: Su-Barbie-A, Teen Idles, The Primadonna and the Homewrecker.
What’s more, Electra Heart is also much more aesthetically consistent, each song floating easily into the next and no track being a true standout. It’s a dark and quick album, danceable with just a tinge of menace.
The title track, “Bubblegum Bitch,” is beat-driven and fast, both vocally and instrumentally. It introduces us to Electra’s life, which is shallow and vapid, full of heartbreaking and advantage taking.
The second track, “Primadonna Girl,” is the catchiest off of the regular album and is ridiculously danceable. It introduces Electra’s thought process, a simultaneous realization of her vapidity and indifference to the chaos she creates.
The song is driven mainly by Marina’s operatic vocals, which rapidly transition between frenzied staccato and breathy melody. For the majority of the song, Marina’s voice is backed only by drums and dubstep-esque baselines, and it works well.
Marina and the Diamonds’ step towards more mainstream pop may be unsettling, but it is ultimately successful. The album’s production is masterful, showcasing Marina’s strong voice and providing appropriate accompaniment.
The final track, “Fear and Loathing” is haunting and the perfect way to end the album. The character of Electra Heart has an epiphany and the constructs surrounding her during the body of the album begin to break down. Vocally, the track is airy but heavy, like a humid summer day.
Not present on the normal version album is dance club hit “Radioactive.” The track is available only on deluxe edition along with “Sex Yeah,” “Lonely Hearts Club” and “Buy the Stars.”
At first listen, “Electra Heart” is jarring, possibly even upsetting, but it’s an album that grows on you. While it may not feature the range or experimentation present on The Family Jewels, it’s much more thematically and stylistically tight. It’s a successful sophomore effort and is worth a listen or 20.
Rating: 4 out of 5