This week we have Marina Lambrini Diamandis… no seriously, I didn’t make that up, that really is her name. Marina from “Marina and the Diamonds” is half Welsh and half Greek. She was born on 10 October 1985 (These people are too young!!!) and hails from Abergavenny which is near the Brecon Beacons. A [not] interesting fact about me is my school had a field study centre in Tal-y-bont and I went to the Beacons nearly every year for about 7 years and I did my A-Level Geography field study in Abergavenny. Who knows, I might have even quizzed Marina?!
But I digress… The Diamonds part of “Marina and the Diamonds” refers to us, her fans, rather than her band – in a similar way that “Florence and the Machine” isn’t a bird with a giant electric toothbrush.
“The Family Jewels” is her debut album and was released on 22nd February 2010 – which explains my dilemmas with Ellie Goulding’s album coming out just a week later! I mentioned last week that I thought that Ellie’s album would live in the shadow of this one but her album has shone. Well, after listening to Marina’s effort for the last couple of weeks, I’ve realised that they aren’t really comparable.
Yes, if I ignore the plethora of new classifications (Ellie being ‘folktronica’ and Marina being ‘indie pop’) these are fundamentally two pop albums. But where as Ellie is more electronic/dance/moody/teenage angst, Marina is a little more instrumental. I don’t mean strings, trumpets and drums – there is a lot of production and plenty of it probably computer based – but it’s… well, it’s a bit more varied. And Marina’s lyrics are a little leftfield too. She sings about not wanting fame, beating a dog to death when she was little and wanting forgiveness, that the American society is a tragic mess, and girls being…err… girls.
It’s almost a little bit mad.
If I was to ever meet Marina and she heard me say this, she would probably kick me hard in the bo… leg but she’s a little bit like Wales answer to Katie Perry and I mean that in a good way. Whilst on holiday in Cuba a few years ago I found a good drinking buddy in a Weapons Specialist for the Royal Navy. He used to fire missiles off of warships for a living. Nice! He told me a story about how the American forces were warned never to attempt a drinking competition with any of the UK forces. Apparently, despite the Americans looking like steroid induced robo-warriors, it’s not a patch on our boys. We are hard-assed drinkers. I liked that story and it reminds me of Marina verse Katy.
You see that’s the essence of this. Marina has balls. Her album carries itself off on it’s own little journey and you either like it and get involved or you can get lost. It doesn’t care. There’s no attempt to follow a formula – it’s just Marina singing about whatever she feels like. There’s her single “Mowgli’s Road” which starts with her making cuckoo sounds and has loads of obscure metaphors, which I guess is about her recent life journey towards fame, and then gets followed up but “Obsessions” which is a much slower, but no less enjoyable, tune about all of the odd things that make us all unique.
And I think that’s why I like this album. It’s unique.
She then has a track called “Hollywood” which has the line “I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America”. So much for worrying about breaking the US market then! I like it.
So to sum up, you’re not going to find a great new sound here, but you will find some interesting things said and some good tunes to carry the stories. You will get an insight into a mind that clearly is confident in doing what it wants. And to top it all, Marina has a great voice and she knows how to use it. Listen to “Oh No!” and you’ll see what I mean. I’m seeing her in concert in a month or so – I hope she doesn’t let me down and is as good live as she is on her album. Katy Perry sucks live.
So I’m going to give this a slight controversial 3G’s.
Why is it controversial? Well, I did put Marina up against Ellie and as I gave Ellie’s album 4G’s that would mean she’s won. In reality, there isn’t a lot in it but my personal preference is Ellie’s album has the edge and I find myself listening to it more (especially at full volume in the car).
I’ll try and get my Australian surprise review out later this week. Stay tuned!!!