While Marina and the Diamonds (nee, Marina Diamandis) showed great promise of possibly carving an alt-pop niche for herself with her debut record The Family Jewels, her new release Electra Heart takes a huge step in another direction, which turns out to be a definite mis-step.
Described by Marina herself as a clear departure from her previous material (Really, girl? Aren’t you just getting started?), the album title is the namesake of an alter ego she adopted for the theme of the record—“the antithesis of everything I stand for”, she told Popjustice.com. Venturing deep out of indie territory into pop, Marina tapped a small army of songwriters and producers who have logged hits for other pop divas (Britney Spears and Katy Perry, to name a couple) to create the material for the record. The whole thing was apparently intended to make a statement, and on paper it seems like a worthwhile effort—but something has gone terribly awry in the implementation of it.
Let’s see if I can describe what I’m observing about Marina’s performance on Electra Heart by making a set of key statements:
- She sounds vocally like Katy Perry.
- She carries the Celtic vibe of Florence + the Machine.
- She echoes the electro-pop vibe of Ellie Goulding.
- She creates a sorrowfully seductive alter ego similar to Lana Del Rey.
- She emulates the kitch of Lady Gaga or Gwen Stefani.
See where I’m going with this? Electra Heart essentially sounds and acts like everyone else, and nothing like who Marina describes herself to be. In creating an “every-diva” alter ego (without clearly defining her own persona beforehand), Marina and the Diamonds has completely lost herself, and made a mess of a record in the process. Very creative, to be sure—but completely lost.
I could give you track-by-track examples, but really, what’s the point? Some tracks sound like Katy Perry, some like Florence + the Machine…you get the idea. You can occasionally get a glimpse of what Marina was trying to do within a few of the more poignant lyrics (“Sex Yeah” and “Fear and Loathing,” for example, wax a bit philosophical), but even in this regard, the dream team of songwriters apparently haven’t given their best.
Perhaps a more established artist could have pulled off the alter-ego thing (think Bono and The Fly)—and while still new, Lana Del Rey is sort of pulling it off by completely immersing herself in her persona—but Marina and the Diamonds simply didn’t have the traction to make Electra Heart work. This is a girl with definite talent, however; let’s hope this mis-step doesn’t block her from the chance to try again.
ALBUM RATING: 1.5 Stars (out of five)