Welsh-born singer Marina Diamandis calls herself the “anti-Adele.” She sings about love, but her songs won’t make you cry. Diamandis, who performs under the stage name “Marina and the Diamonds,” released her sophomore album on April 30, and it’s all about love, loss and fitting into the Hollywood stereotype, over electronic beats.
Her first album, “The Family Jewels,” was released in 2010 and showed Diamandis’ love/hate relationship with Hollywood culture. Her songs set out to prove that she’s different from all of the other female pop stars. Her biting lyrics and upbeat sound were refreshing and earned her comparisons to other budding singers like Ellie Goulding.
Now Diamandis is back, and while the sharp tongue remains, some things have changed. In continuing her relationship with celebrity life, Diamandis has created an alter ego. The album is titled “Electra Heart,” and her look in recent music videos and the style of her new songs reflect 1950’s culture.
It’s about as deep as a pop album can go. In an attempt to attack the sugar-and-spice pop singers of today, Diamandis must become everything she hates. Her songs as alter-ego Electra all have the pop sound, but if you listen closely there is a cynical and even sinister undertone.
In the opening lines of the song “Bubblegum Bitch,” Marina as Electra sings, “Got a figure like a pin-up/got a figure like a doll/don’t care if you think I’m dumb/I don’t care at all,” and later on she declares, “I chew you up and spit you out/’cause that is what your love is all about.” The song is catchy and cheerful like a pop song should be, but paradoxically warns of the dangers of the life that the song is promoting.
While “Electra Heart” is not as strong as “The Family Jewels,” the album is ambitious to say the least. Diamandis is making more than music; she’s making a statement. Sometimes it works better than others, such as on the tracks “Bubblegum Bitch” and the single of the album, “Primadonna,” another tongue-in-cheek song about the cursed life of being a “primadonna girl… wanting the world.”
Perhaps the best song of the album is “Teen Idle.” Here Marina is finally able to step out of Electra’s shadow and discuss her own teenage years of “wishing to be a prom queen fighting for a title/instead of being sixteen burning up the Bible/feeling super super suicidal.” So maybe the character of Electra is a little bit too much. Marina seems to be at her best when she’s just singing about what she knows. The album is still a valiant effort.
Overall, “Electra Heart” is worth a listen if you want to hear something new that won’t take you out of your comfort zone.
Listen to: “Teen Idle,” “Homewrecker” and “State of Control”