Marina
Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land


3.5
great

Review

by MaryBabko USER (27 Reviews)
June 14th, 2021 | 63 replies


Release Date: 06/11/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A really great 2021 record, full of modern ideas blended with 00's disco, that deserves more recognition for its relevance in today's society

Completely overlooked by an overwhelming number of listeners worldwide, despite separating herself from the vast majority of carbon-copied pop musicians in the industry, Marina Diamandis has returned in 2021 with her fifth studio album. For those not in the know, she is a Welsh singer-songwriter who found a modicum of success with the release of singles such as 'I Am Not A Robot' from debut album The Family Jewels, before branching out into more quirky and varied indie-pop on sophomore effort Electra Heart. Electra Heart is often seen as her apex, before third record Froot showcased some more meaningful progression, with even more disco influence present than previously, whilst maintaining the interesting mixture of slower songs that characterized her first two records. To fans of Marina, it felt as though she could do no wrong, but fourth record Love + Fear - released in two separate parts throughout 2019 - showcased pronounced strains in her sound, and killed off what little momentum she had built previously. Therefore, it is no surprise to find that Marina's latest album, Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land, released to little attention once more, despite sitting somewhere between Electra Heart and Froot in terms of overall quality.

Opening the album with the bombastic disco-pop title track, Marina entirely eliminates the predictable, formulaic soundscape of Love + Fear. Compared by the music publication 'Pitchfork' to Britney Spears' megahit Womanizer, it certainly contains similarities in its melody, although Marina's distinctive Welsh twang ensures a completely different feel. Marina is not a bubblegum pop singer, with lyrical content detailing more serious matters, and this record is a continuation of that legacy, although with more contentious subject matters. "You don't have to be like everybody else"," declares Diamandis; a positive self-worth message that feels relevant in a world where depression is rife and certain countries are overcoming the trappings of administrations characterized by intolerance. This lyrical topic is one that returns throughout the record in different forms, and is one that could easily be dismissed as typical "SJW-propaganda", and whilst it is handled in a very simplistic manner, it fits the overly bubbly vocals of Marina on the more up-tempo songs.

Returning to the music, Pandora's Box is a particularly interesting track, opening with the delicate croon of "you almost turned me psycho". This song is one of the slowest on the record, emerging from the aftermath of the scathing attack on New America with one of the catchiest melodies on the record. The chorus of this song is especially powerful, showing off Marina's higher register, whilst the musical progression throughout the song, introducing the drum beat and various other instruments that perfectly compliment the strings in the background to exceptional effect. Initially, I felt this song was weaker than the rest, but it has grown on this reviewer immensely. Scrolling through comments on the Youtube stream for this song provided a little insight that may be worth sharing, with somebody illustrating the changes in Marina's writing throughout her career. To begin with, she began strongly, then fell on Electra Heart into the pits of depression, before learning to accept herself on the much-maligned Love + Fear, and on this record she is teaching others to accept themselves. Pandora's Box is a fantastic embodiment of this concept, and it really was food for thought.

Flowers is another down-tempo song that compliments the bouncier disco tunes here, and whilst not having that snappy attitude of the title track or the all-round brilliance of meticulously-crafted Venus Fly Trap, it has its own distinct identity. I would say that this is the perfect way of summarizing this album - it is one where each and every song feels totally separate from the others, and yet has an undeniable cohesion to its flow. Of the other, unmentioned songs, only second single Purge The Poison feels a little out of place, taking the theatrical aspects of Marina's work and feeling as though it relies too heavily on them for a crutch instead of finding its own identity. Overall, however, this is a record I feel holds its own when placed beside all of Marina's previous work, and is a mixture of catchy disco-pop and sombre slower tracks that feels completely relevant in today's world. It isn't her absolute finest work, but it is one worthy of celebration regardless.



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user ratings (42)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
MaryBabko
June 14th 2021


1090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haven't written a review for a while, so I'm a bit rusty. Hope this isn't too bad and conveys my feelings on the record well enough.





EDIT - COMPLETELY EDITED THE REVIEW, TAKEN ON PEOPLE's FEEDBACK, I HOPE THIS IS AN IMPROVEMENT

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 14th 2021


38102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I loved this. Never heard a Marina album before and was pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the vocals as well as the lyrical content.

Digging: Bruno Pernadas - Private Reasons

alamo
June 14th 2021


4018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sowing check her first 3 you're in for a treat

MaryBabko
June 14th 2021


1090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, her first sucked but yeah Electra Heart and Froot were good

g40st
June 15th 2021


139 Comments


Just started this and first three songs are all awesome.

g40st
June 15th 2021


139 Comments


Metacritic recs have been good lately how unusual.

zaruyache
June 15th 2021


24096 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Family Jewels is great, ignore that comment.

g40st
June 15th 2021


139 Comments


So this is consistently good throughout. Lyrics are pretty sus but fortunately I do not listen to music for the lyrics.

Gyromania
June 15th 2021


32468 Comments


Acad is going to FLIP when he reads that summary

Asdfp277
June 15th 2021


23358 Comments


electra heart is best, nothing else by her comes even close

Get Low
June 15th 2021


10354 Comments


I listened to this a few days ago because Spotify recommended it and thought it sucked the big one. I'd never heard of Marina before and haven't heard any of her previous work, so I don't how this sounds comparatively.

el_newg
June 15th 2021


1273 Comments


Family Jewels is by far my favourite wtf
never checked Love + Fear but this one has me more interested

zaruyache
June 15th 2021


24096 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

her first three LPs rule and are all better than this, so definitely try any of those. Any of her top spotify tracks are good places to peruse.

brandontaylor
June 15th 2021


1050 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

her first two albums are god-tier pop but I found this just as good as FROOT (fantastic but not god-tier lmao), and a very very welcome rebound after the last album. shes back!!!

also whoever compared the t/t on this to womanizer... i just wanna talk

Jasdevi087
June 15th 2021


6699 Comments


trying to wrap my head around how, of all users, sowingseason has never heard a marina and the diamonds album before

aydross121
June 15th 2021


1089 Comments


queen is back, better than love + fear

alamo
June 15th 2021


4018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm glad we alla gree her first 3 albums are 5s

MrGlass
June 15th 2021


420 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

been a Marina stan since Family Jewels. and I find myself wanting to like this more than I actually do. I love the sound she dialed in on the new singles - it's definitely weirder and a little more "punk" (for lack of a bette word) than her usual fare. on the flip side... the chorus melodies just aren't as strong or memorable as some of her previous work. Venus Fly Trap & Man's World are the highlights for me though

Digging: Poppy - EAT (NXT Soundtrack)

MaryBabko
June 15th 2021


1090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I would really rather people gave me constructive criticism than just ghost negging. Ghost negging usually just means you don't agree with the opinion of the reviewer.

alamo
June 15th 2021


4018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i didn't neg but i think the biggest issue is your summary, saying this album is "another that condemns Marina to simply being in the B-tier of musicians of her day" is super harsh and makes it seem like you think none of her stuff is good enough and she's always been average



but judging by your first paragraph i dont think that's what you meant to say since you say she's "criminally overlooked" and praise electra heart and froot



so i'm guessing by "b-tier" you meant in terms of popularity like she's not going to be as popular as dua lipa or something, but that's also silly because it doesn't speak anything about the music itself



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