Release Date: May 25, 2010
Record label: 679/Atlantic
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
"Did you find your bitch in me," Marina Diamandis asks on "Hermit the Frog," a track not unlike many others suggesting that Marina & the Diamonds' debut album is not scared of being inarguably ballsy. Track to track, each song is more quotably engaging than the next on The Family Jewels, the debut record by Marina & the Diamonds. Diamandis, the sole artist behind the band, does a masterful job of navigating through styles and genres on a varied debut that hoards influences from '80s dance records, late-'90s female rock, and post-millennial synth pop and throwback soul.
Alot of intriguing musical reference points have been thrown at singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis: her backing group the Diamonds, like Florence's Machine, don't actually exist. It shouldn't perhaps be a surprise that she's being hailed as the new Kate Bush, this being apparently mandatory for any white female singer who doesn't appear in the public consciousness bearing a spray tan, a sad backstory about an ailing relation and the earnest assurance to Dermot O'Leary that singing is her life and she really, really wants this. More striking are the other names that have been mentioned in conjunction with her own, none of which exactly square with an artist whose single Hollywood is currently in the Top 20: Laura Nyro, Sparks, Super Furry Animals and Aphrodite's Child, the demented prog rock band in which Vangelis and Demis Roussos originally plied their trade.
Marina has very ambitious goals for herself, which I can’t imagine the majority of her audience really sharing on her behalf. A less subtle Tori Amos, Marina (and her nonexistent diamonds—Florence has her machine, after all) seems to believe that she is heads and shoulders above any “singer-songwriter” tag that could be applied to her. And as a result, her overblown debut is definitely an acquired taste.
In attempting to straddle the tricky divide between 'credible' and 'pop', Marina and the Diamonds ends up encountering similar problems to label-mate Little Boots. After two limited releases last year on the Neon Gold imprint, Marina has opted for the slow-build, unleashing the lovely and understated piano ballad 'Obsessions' last February, followed by the almost-perfect pop paean to outsiderhood, 'I'm Not A Robot' (still two of the strongest tracks on show here). However, after drawing in Regina Spektor fans everywhere - including Perez Hilton - with crafted songs about OCDs and shopping for crackers, now Marina has gone and made a 'pop' album.
In pop music, the best artists are the ones that keep it fun and hold your attention. It’s a worthy tradition that arguably reached its zenith in the 1980s, where Adam Ant, ABC and Madness amongst others did their bit to keep the charts boredom-free. A succession of over-earnest boy bands, talent show alumni and shadowy svengali seem intent on sucking the enjoyment out of pop culture but it looks like Marina Diamandis - better known as Marina and the Diamonds - follows the twin manifesto of pop music: fun and entertaining.
The Abergavenny-born singer will mostly polarise opinion. Lou Thomas 2010. In pop terms Marina Diamandis is rather unusual. Not because she lacks the genuine weirdness and fearless invention of Micachu (although she does), or the songwriting ability of Florence Welch (although she does). No. She.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS (Atlantic). Sooner or later it happens to most long-running bands: the all-grown-up, sober-but-wiser album. That’s what “Stone Temple Pilots” turns out to be. “I’m getting old and my money’s been spent,” Scott Weiland, 42, sings in “Samba Nova,” a Brazilian ….