Marina and The Diamonds
The Family Jewels



by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
March 31st, 2010 | 13 replies

Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Actually, my name's Marina.

The ever evolving pop world has just had its bird cage rattled for the first of what will hopefully be many times in 2010. What we have here is somewhat of an anomaly in a genre that is regularly chiseled to pinpoint perfection: what's on offer here just doesn't add up. Young, precocious and stunning to look at, Welsh-born Marina Diamandis looks the part - that is, as if she should easily fit the precise mold of a clean-cut pop starlet with mild, inoffensive electro-pop backing; destined for chart success. All this premonition, mind, is without hearing one word uttered from her cherry-red lips. Once they're gaping, there's no such luck for what you expected. Within the first two minutes of the album, Diamandis (whom performs under the moniker Marina & The Diamonds) sings of pulling out her hair, being a control freak and claiming that it's her problem "if I have no friends and if I want to die"; all the while asking if you are "satisfied with an average life."


The Family Jewels, her debut album, was always going to be a shock to the senses, but there's something about this aesthetic deception that lures you in even further - the album is sharply executed, lavish in its hooks and, once you familiarise yourself with it, one of the more rewarding pop album experiences in quite some time. Looking to make a firm identity stamp with her music, it's unsurprising that the twenty-four-year-old Diamandis can't stick around long in one particular sound. Her ambition makes for a tracklisting that, as an entity, perhaps may come across as a little inconsistent. Dealing with each track on its own, however, will result in some phenomenal finds. The Kate Bush-esque parade of "Mowgli's Road", for instance, will lock itself inside your head and throw away the key; a twisted, rollicking exploration of pop's jungles and swamplands as opposed to its cities and V.I.P. clubs. Supremes-esque backing vocals and a triumphant, paradoxical chorus ("I don't know, don't know, don't know, don't know/who I want to be") are pitted against distorted keyboard, a thudding percussive rhythm and even the demented screeches of a monkey (no, really) in what feels like a fight to the finish. With not a second wasted in the entire song, Marina has put forth a sound that's inventive and exciting - and the best part about it is that it doesn't stop there.

"Hollywood" is an upbeat piano-pop comedy of errors. Marina observes how easy it is to become overly enamoured in Westernised culture ("living in the movie scene/kicking American dreams"), all the while her tongue firmly placed inside her cheek. Look no further than the "OH. MY. GOD!" of the second verse for the smirk-inducing proof of this. Meanwhile, "I Am Not a Robot" is self-deprecation at its most anthemic. Here, Diamandis talks openly and unhappily to herself over a strong piano progression and a soaring string arrangement: "Don't be so pathetic/Just open up and sing", she sighs at one point. She brings in steely harmonies during its verses and a swaying choir during its unforgettable chorus, giving the song the extra kick needed and securing its spot as one of the album's most memorable moments.

In fact, it's when Marina properly arranges her thickly layered voice that the highlights come quick and fast. "The Outsider" and closer "Guilty" boast quivering, wordless warbles near their conclusion that evolve from a solitary whisper into "Bohemian Rhapsody"-esque grandeur simply by adding higher harmony vocals one by one. Additionally, the stirring ballad "Numb" is swelled to even greater proportions with angelic vocal arrangements giving the impression of a thousand Marinas wailing the emotionally distant refrain of "I feel numb most of the time/The more I get, the higher I climb". Matched with a refreshing variety backings that vary from accordion, piano and electric bass to wurtilizer, synth and electronic drum patterns; the album has perfect twenty-twenty vision of the entire pop spectrum, taking what it pleases from across the territory but mostly oriented towards the left-of-centre.

Amidst the current wave of what your radio has to offer, Marina and The Diamonds is too great a sound to ignore. Her obvious talent, her technicolour imagination and her unbelievable knack for modern pop brilliance are not so much a glimmer of hope but a radiance similar to what one gets from holding one of those titular diamonds to direct sunlight. Calling this the potential foremost sound of 2010 might result in being told to calm down by naysayers...but then they'll listen to The Family Jewels, too.

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user ratings (191)
other reviews of this album
Davey Boy STAFF (4)
Marina is the self-proclaimed fucking wild card of the quirky Brit pack....

Matthew D. French (4)
with her debut, Marina has made it abundantly clear that she’s a force to be reckoned with in the ...

Rhysydeesy (4)
Vibrant young British poppette is "the anti-GaGa"...

Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

I've got this album dibbed for review when it gets closer to its U.S release date in May. Good review as always DavID.

April 1st 2010


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks bro.

This is pretty much amazing.

April 1st 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Heard a few songs ages ago from this, some were great, especially Mowgli's Road

April 1st 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Some songs are good and pretty enjoyable, some annoy the shit out of me. Good write-up, but don't really see the inventive side of Marina here.. or the rating reflected in the material.

April 1st 2010


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You really don't think she's inventive? Put her in the pop world right now next to your Ke$has and your Cascadas and what have you, she's miles ahead.

Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Hollywood is the best pop song of the year so far by a mile imo, but the rest of this didn't really do much for me :-(

April 9th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Well, I certainly don't expect anyone to like this as much as I do, but I'm glad you checked it out. Mowgli's Road is still my favourite.

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

good album. may up to a 4 after more listens

March 5th 2011


This is such a good review

Digging: BT - ESCM

March 5th 2011


Gyrofyromania sighting.

March 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

hahah @ no comnets

March 5th 2011


Davey stole them all.

March 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off


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