Release Date: Mar 16, 2015
Record label: Atlantic
Review Summary: If I could buy forever at a price, I would buy it ThriceJust to get some of the obvious items out of the way first: YES, the concept behind Electra Heart was stupid. NO, that condemnation of concept did not render the album a turd (not even lyrically), although... YES, deep down, the electro-pop thing felt a bit forced, and more like some carefully orchestrated strike at the successes of many of Marina's so-called contemporaries (and one that, from a U.S.
In a number of ways, Marina & the Diamonds' third album sounds like a fresh start. Marina Diamandis toured the living hell out of Electra Heart, both this record's predecessor and the name of the pop star character she'd created to go along with it, before killing her off and going into hiding for six months, in a manner of speaking. She'd done her time as Electra, who had been an extension of herself as much as anything else.
Following the success of her 2012 sophomore effort, the slick if highly conceptual Electric Heart, Marina and the Diamonds' singer/songwriter Marina Diamandis eschewed the multi-producer/co-writer approach she took with that album, choosing instead to write all the music on her own and record with just one producer, Dave Kosten (Brooke Fraser, Bat for Lashes). The choice was a smart one, and Marina and the Diamonds' third studio album, 2015's Froot, is an atmospheric, sophisticated work that finds Diamandis coming into her own as an artist. Recorded with Kosten and a working band, Froot combines everything that was uniquely tantalizing, and pugnaciously feminist, about her debut, while also retaining just enough of the enthusiastic pop hooks and dance beats of Electric Heart to keep things from getting too serious -- and there is a lot of seriousness on Froot.
Beginning an album with a song like ‘Happy’ is a huge statement. A declaration of the purest degree, Marina and the Diamonds starts her newest album stripped back, with just vocals and piano, opening up the floodgates and laying herself bare. Its lines, like the chorus hook of “Finally, I have found a way to be happy” are so simple, so honest that they become the perfect opening gambit for her new record.
With 2012’s collaboration-heavy Electra Heart having been hobbled by an identity crisis, the oddly titled Froot finds Marina Diamandis, aka Marina and the Diamonds, curtailing her eccentricities and pulling the focus inwards. Co-produced with David Kosten, it’s that rare thing; a cohesive pop album that doesn’t just rely on a couple of big singles. In fact, the lilting I’m a Ruin and the electro-tinged Blue aside, most songs take time to unfurl, the melancholy pace set by reflective opener Happy.
"She is a Polish girl in America!" Marina Diamandis sang in 2010 on "Hollywood", a song from her debut album The Family Jewels. She went on, "Oh my god, you look just like Shakira, no, no, you’re Catherine Zeta— actually, my name’s Marina!" In one verse, she mimicks the voices of those grouping her with other crossover celebrity women who scan simultaneously as "White" and "Other" to American audiences and answering them, at once. It was a smooth performance, demonstrating her place within American’s white spatial imaginary (Diamandis is Greek and Welsh)— a dream-like double consciousness acknowledged with nary a nod or a wink.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. If you were to directly compare the first two albums by Marina Diamandis, you'd be forgiven for feeling confused. In the same way if I told you Vladimir Putin has a fondness for Sex and the City and Mean Girls - it just doesn't add up. The Welsh singer/songwriter's debut The Family Jewels was a wonky-pop record (remember that 'genre'?) that was a bit too heavy on the wonk.
Welsh pop artist Marina Diamandis' third album is her most revealing and sure-footed yet. Diamandis (a.k.a. Marina and The Diamonds) comes across as more mature and sincere than on previous efforts like her conceptually challenged 2012 LP Electra Heart. On that album, she worked with a slew of Top 40 producers, ending up with a wobbly pastiche; here, she uses only producer David Kosten, and did all the writing herself.
“Who runs the world?” hollered Beyoncé a few years ago. The answer was, of course, “girls”, and although the political system may still be run on a predominately patriarchal level, it’s undeniable that the vast majority of interesting and creative pop music is being created by females at the moment. For every pale, uninteresting boy with a guitar and a hat, there’s the bratty charm of Charli XCX, the universal appeal of Taylor Swift – and even an old hand like Madonna can win headlines simply by falling down some stairs at an awards ceremony.
Electra Heart, which chronicled the fictional adventures of a pill-guzzling American siren called Electra, took Marina Diamandis to the top of the album chart in 2012. The Welsh singer credits the experience with teaching her how to write bigger, lusher songs, and she’s applied that in spades to the entirely self-penned Froot. Diamandis’s default setting is hyper-emotional anyway, so this has yielded a record of intense highs and lows, and a range of styles that don’t always join up well.
Electra Heart has died. The alter ego of Marina Diamandis (aka Marina and the Diamonds) on her 2012 sophomore release, Electra Heart, was an airhead pop star who represented pop culture in its bleakest throes. On her third album, FROOT, the Welsh singer-songwriter ditches K-pop twists and glittery hearts in favor of revealing her true self, penning every song herself and only bringing one co-producer, David Kosten, on board.
Following her high-concept second LP Electra Heart, told from the point of view of female character archetypes in ‘50s/’60s America, Marina Diamandis (AKA Marina & The Diamonds) took a series of bold steps. She ditched the big name co-writes – sayonara Dr. Luke! - stuffed her faux-gullet with sleeping pills to ensure the titular Electra Heart would doze off for eternity, and strove to create her album.? In doing so, Diamandis’ third long-player, FROOT, is in many ways her finest creation to date.
Though the sounds of Top 40 remain largely stagnant this year, there have been several mold-breaking exceptions in Q1, eschewing the typical pop format for subversion that doesn’t sacrifice hooks. Most of them, not shockingly, come from overseas, where producers are still churning out the world.
Marina Diamandis is a curious specimen, seeming silly on the macro scale but revealing herself a more canny artist upon closer inspection — and then, when you look closer still, becoming silly again. It’s that last level that separates her from, say, Regina Spektor. But “FROOT” offers some tantalizing flashes of that middle layer, including a title track beginning as chirpy Eurodisco camp (with a unifying metaphor stretching the definition of “unsubtle“) that deceptively sets up the satisfyingly adult seduction of the chorus.
opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH I'll be frank: I am a huge fan of Marina and the Diamonds. With a stellar track record consisting of two fantastic albums on opposite ends of the pop spectrum (the quirky The Family Jewels and populist radio smash Electra Heart), I figured that Marina Diamandis had her finger on the music’s world pulse, gauging what the people were ready for and aiming straight for the jugular. In 2012, Diamandis was catapulted unexpectedly into the mainstream via Electra Heart, the antithesis to a sophomore slump, climbing from a staple of indie kid pale blogs to a number one album in her home country.