posted on March 09, 2010 18:00
A review of the album The Family Jewels by Marina & the Diamonds
Review Snapshot: Put a striking Greek girl in Wales who grows up to have a London accent and you get Marina Diamandis, better known as Marina & the Diamonds. Her long awaited debut ‘The Family Jewels’ is a shameless pop album, mixed with a hint of indie and sprinkled with some eccentricity. This, it turns out, is a winning combination.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
Having recently been put on almost every ‘One to Watch for 2010’ list Marina & the Diamonds had a lot to live up to with ‘The Family Jewels’. Detailing the world around her and the apparent perils of being a woman in the 21st Century (“Girls are not meant to fight dirty/Never look a day past thirty”) makes for an interesting listen.
The second track on the album, ‘Shampain’, has an 80s glam feel and slight similarities to Ladyhawke’s sound. She proclaims that “sleep is not my friend” with swirling vocals and an array of synthesisers. The song is extremely catchy and seems to document a hedonistic existence, but ends quietly on a high note, sounding innocent in contrast to the exploits described and the up-beat tempo in the rest of the song.
‘Girls’ sounds Disney-esque at the beginning, due to the fantasy style instrumentation and the looming sound of the drum beat. In a case of things that shouldn’t work, but somehow do, an accordion is thrown into the mix temporarily, and all of a sudden it seems like you’ve been transported into the back streets of a tiny town in Rome. She expresses dissatisfaction and boredom in being around girls, singing that “I fall asleep when they speak of all the calories they eat”. All of the lyrics in this song are amusing but also an observation of modern life, and in some instances, similar to Alex Turner’s lyrical abilities. Impressive? Very much so.
The humorously titled ‘Hermit the Frog’ begins with strings, and sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on a James Bond soundtrack. Then it launches into the first chorus and displays the quirky and eccentric style expected of Marina. Though at times the track can get irritating, most notably just before the third verse where there’s a piercing “oh oh oh” line. Otherwise, it adequately shows the aforementioned song writing skills and the slight insanity which seems to enhance this album.
‘Guilty’ is a strong closing track with a pulsing drum beat and an altogether atmospheric sound. It shows her excellent vocal ability, and is glossed with the escapism featured throughout the album. It’s a perfect ending to ‘The Family Jewels’, displaying vulnerability which isn’t as apparent throughout the rest of the album, with lyrics such as “I was just a kid/And all I wanted was my father.”
Overall, this album is fun and a bit odd, which only adds to the mystique of Marina Diamandis. She’s a revelation, with an at times astonishing vocal ability and unabashedly cutting lyrics.