Marina and The Diamonds
Electra Heart


3.5
great


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Above all, Electra Heart is a story about Marina's struggle to keep up with her own ambitions, and ultimately her failure due to them.

It feels just like it was just yesterday when the Britpop market started to get flooded with quirky wannabe female pop stars. That's obviously because that trend hasn't changed over the past few years, and they just keep on coming. In 2010 however, a different kind of pop star was born. I wouldn't say that they were exactly reinventing the wheel (because that would be extremely far-fetched) but the likes of Marina and the Diamonds (among other contemporary artists like the lovely Ellie Goulding) were definitely shaking things up a bit. As far as Marina's musical approach is concerned, she managed to spice up a bit of her quirky pop and indie tendencies with ironic lyrics and infectious vocals. Sadly, although her debut was quite amazing, it didn't really bring the commercial success she had hoped for; something she expressed quite often in interviews following the album's release. Now, stubborn as she apparently is, Marina started working on her sophomore effort, which was meant to outclass her debut in every way (but mostly in commercial success). After over a year of studio work and months of acquiring outrageous amounts of hype, Electra Heart is now finally among us, but maybe she polished this diamond a bit too much.

Anything for the crown – 'Primadonna'

An important thing to note about this album is the fact that it's fully based around a slightly ridiculous concept. In short, Electra Heart is the story of Marina turning into a spoiled brat, which pretty much resembles the stereotypical image of the average American teen (which is something she's scared of). In the light of this concept the whole album turns into a sort of treasure hunt, where she looks for happiness through different means such as material goods, love, and the gift of kindness (as in giving it to others), which also turns into a sort of twisted morale. Knowing this doesn't change the album for better or worse, but it does explain some of Marina’s musical decisions (such as the questionable electro-influences).

Living with identities that not belong to me – 'Valley of the Dolls'

As I mentioned before, Electra Heart was supposed to be Marina's big claim to fame and it sure does sound like it. You can easily handpick the songs that were made to be a single, but herein lies a hidden problem. In Marina's assumedly desperate attempt to make them as 'radio-friendly' as possible, songs like 'Homewrecker', 'Power & Control' and 'Lies' end up sounding pretty vapid and overproduced. Strangely, the same treatment had the exact opposite effect on the album's lead single 'Primadonna', presumable because the beats take a back seat. Talking about 'Homewrecker', it's a shame the song ended up this way because as she showed on its acoustic version, it's actually a lot better when you've gotten rid of all those electronic influences hanging over Marina's superb vocal performance like a bunch of black clouds over a summer's day picnic. It should also be noted that another cheap electro-driven track, 'Radioactive', was pulled from the album after the video failed to garner enough views. Honestly, she should have known better than to nearly ruin those tracks with sloppy David Guetta- esque electro beats, even though her massive vocal performance manages to keep everything more or less running smoothly.

Why don't we just pretend - 'Lies'

Luckily this record isn't fully driven by wobbly beats. Opening track 'Bubblegum Bitch' for example is a powerful, guitar-driven middle finger to teenage love and 'Hypocrates', Marina's 'for better or for worse' take on pop rock, is the only song that has a vague resemblance to Marina's past naivety. The weird thing is, that after all of this Marina simply failed to see her real strengths, the slower, ballads. Tracks like 'Lies', 'Teen Idle' and arguably her best and hardest hitting song so far: 'Fear and Loathing', showcase just how amazing a songwriter she actually is and show how the song's structures could have been built around her amazing vocals instead of the other way around. Speaking about 'Teen Idle', one could not look past Marina's honestly pretty fantastic lyrical approach, where she manages to build the album's admittedly pretty average concept up to a higher level. Clever lines such as “feeling super, super, super! Suicidal” showcase just how well she's able to turn something rather average around and shape it into something amazing through the sheer use of irony and clever song writing.

I wanna be a real fake – 'Teen Idle'

So there you have it, Electra Heart is both a story of triumph and failure, just like the album's heartfelt approach to pop music. Some of it manages to hit exactly the right spot, while other parts are only just passable thanks to Marina's simply magnificent vocal performance. As clever and powerful as her lyrics are and as emotional as songs like 'Lies' may be, Electra Heart will sadly be remembered most as the second time Marina failed to fully deliver on her humongous potential.

I don't wanna be completely faithless – 'Fear and Loathing'



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Chart.
3.4
great
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hello sputnik, let's try this again shall we

big thanks mutatedfreek on this one and of course it's dedicated to him

:]

aaand I messed up the italics in the last paragraph

balls

Graveyard
May 2nd 2012


5817 Comments


you really love this album don't you?

Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I love her

not the album

well not as much anyway

ConsiderPhlebas
May 2nd 2012


6157 Comments


Great review

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

what the fuck (not joking) (only joking a little)

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

'Homewrecker', 'Power & Control' and 'Lies' end up sounding pretty vapid and overproduced.


Homewrecker is the only one that fits this description (pretty awful song), and you LIKED HOMEWRECKER

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Talking about 'Homewrecker', it's a shame the song ended up this way because as she showed on the acoustic EP, it's actually a lot better when you've gotten rid of all those electronic influences hanging over Marina's superb vocal performance like a bunch of black clouds over a summer's day picnic.


A. Homewrecker's acoustic is not on the EP
B. horrendous run-on sentence

Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yes acad I like those songs but that doesn't mean my criticism isn't valid

and thanks Melvin

'A. Homewrecker's acoustic is not on the EP
B. horrendous run-on sentence'

duly noted


theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

'Radioactive', was pulled from the album after the video failed to garner enough views.


Radioactive was her 2nd highest charting song before Primadonna came out... pretty sure it was 'pulled' because it was released like a year in advance

Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Can't you just neg and move on :/

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

no this needs to happen... also i want you to know that i have ignored every piece of writing/interview that had anything to do with her "concept" and now, thanks to this review, i had to learn what it was. fuck you very much.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

its weird also that you compare homewrecker and lies... did you see the track-by-track she put out today? she talks about how Bubblegum, Primadonna, Homewrecker are meant to go together and fit the 'theme,' but when she talks about Lies, she gets a little personal, stumbles a little... whoever that guy was he REALLY fucked up. Such an ill song.

Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Congratulations, I now feel terrible for posting this yet again

I sincerely hope you got what you wanted out of this

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

lol na its not actually that bad im just joking... and im not the one who negged btw

KILL
May 2nd 2012


72280 Comments


she is gay!

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

altho i do genuinely believe nobody goes from a 5 to a 4 to a 3.5 in four days, and I did predict that critical takes of the album on sputnik were gonna keep abusing that 'o' word

(which tbh doesn't actually exist in this context... i.e., its a lazy, meaningless way to say what you actually mean: you prefer the simplicity of the acoustics or the piano-pop of the Family Jewels)

like it just doesn't make sense to me how you can say you love a song and then call it vapid and overproduced... then what have you left to like about it??

Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

the vocals/lyrics

it's the only reason I'm still listening to it tbh

and it was never really a 5 to me I think... I just got caught up in the hype I guess (I had a discussion with freek on fb about whether or not it was a 5 when it leaked)

Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

and about the 'o' word...

When the beats overpower the vocals I tend to call it overproduced but thank you for your criticism

I'm just not a very good writer

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2012


28817 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

i get the hype thing, and thats a good enough excuse... it's fun to talk up an album you've been anticipating i get that

the vocals/lyrics


this + 'vapid' doesn't compute... at least as far as my interpretation goes.. i guess thats why i pulled the line + quoted it in a fit of rage

I'm just not a very good writer


no, youre a fine writer. just maybe avoiding that particular word would help you craft a more honest (and therefore, better) critique.

Tyrael
May 2nd 2012


20971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Can't beats be vapid? I really don't know...



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