Touted as the next Florence and the Machine, and laying claim to a medal-worthy place on almost every indie publication’s ‘ones to watch’ list: Marina Diamandis teased critics to the point of exultation with magnificent single ‘I Am Not A Robot’. The Family Jewels – an album accompanied by a level of expectation that borders of ludicrous for a debut effort – is crunch time.
What we get is an immediately accessible, attitude-crammed effort that defies convention. Marina’s ballsy. Her vocals come straight out of left field, flitting between a typical female tone and lines that fly up an octave. In ‘Mowgli’s Road’, she drifts into what sounds like a sarcastic male voice, while the whole album’s layered with head-nodding, bouncy, chart-worthy electronica. Comparisons to Florence Welch are a little off the mark: while Florence is a delicate soul – something that’s reflected in her music – Marina is brash and outgoing. The Family Jewels is a real in-your-face album, opinionated, fast-paced and – aside from ‘I am not a robot’ – more of a musical sledgehammer than subtle heart wrencher, but it works.
Marina and the Diamonds is only Marina, and the inclusion of ‘the Diamonds’ – her nickname for her fans used with flippant regularity on her blog – gives an idea of the way Marina thinks: a few weeks before her debut album comes out, and she knows she’s a mere tip toe away from superstardom. There’s a self-assuredness that borders on arrogance creeping into many of her quirkier lyrics. The new single ‘Hollywood’ – inarguably the most chart ready track on the album – stops an inch short of comparing her own fame to that of Shakira and Catherine Zeta Jones.
It’s ‘Hollywood’, in fact, that’s got the ‘love her/ loath her’ debate going in State’s household. With a similar obnoxious edge to Beyonce’s infamous ‘if you like it than you should have put a ring on it’ lyric, it will either hit a big red ‘repel’ button or go straight in as your song of the year. As utterly insufferable as that particular line is, though, it will no doubt get her noticed. Besides, Marina’s lyrical poetry – in this case an ability to reach inside the public consciousness and put into words our simultaneous disdain and fixation with celebrity culture – hits home.
It’s not her only ‘I get ya’ moment, either. ‘Girls’ gets the fairer sex chuckling with lines like ‘Girls aren’t meant to fight dirty, never look a day past thirty’, while opener ‘Are You Satisfied’ is a musical, motivational kick up the ass, despite the fact Marina’s clearly applying it to herself more than her listeners. ‘Obsessions’ sees a warble of emotion cross the self-assured façade, as Marina muses on a fluctuating relationship.
‘Don’t do love, don’t do friends, I’m only after success… I’m becoming my own self-fulfilled prophecy… I feel like I’m the worst, so I act like I’m the best’. The lyrics to ‘Oh No’ sum up Marina’s output. She’s arrogant, she’s self-absorbed, but she’s produced an album that’s as infectious as any we’ve heard in years, and just doesn’t let up. Every track is a potential hit. It’s electro, but done in a style that could simply be no one else. ‘I am not a robot’, as good as it is, is just another track. This album will divide (like ‘Hollywood’, you’ll either love it or despise it), but whichever way you fall, Marina’s produced something distinct, easy to relate to and amazingly assured. Believe the hype.
As published in State Magazine, January 2010 (click here to view original)