Welcome to the life of Electra Heart.
So states a song on Marina and the Diamond's newest effort, Electra Heart. If you're not familiar with Marina and the Diamonds, it's led my Marina Diamindis. Their first release was a cool fusion of new wave, pop, and small pieces of punk. Marina's vocals are awe inspring and operatic, and her lyrics range from the simple and ecstatic, to the strange and melancholy.
Electra is a definite departure from anything on the first record. Marina has chosen to introduce us to a character she has created named Electra Heart. She is the vehicle for the album's ideas. The ideas? Loss of identity in American Culture. Sound boring? Listen to the album first.
However, as much I love a lot of the concepts introduced on the record, sometimes they don't play out as well as they should in theory.
There are a few songs that I absolutely adore. Fear and Loathing is the best of the bunch. Lies, both acoustic and electrified are amazing and lyrically beautiful. Valley of the Dolls is a slow, mournful, tune that to me exemplifies all of the themes on the album when paired with Fear and Loathing. Power and Control is definitely one of the more fun tunes. Primadonna hits all the right notes.
Then there are the songs that sort of work, or that I'm just okay with, like State of Dreaming, which sounds a lot like a Katy Perry song. How To Be A Heartbreaker just doesn't stand out. Teen Idle bores me. Hypocrates doesn't fit with the rest of these songs.
And then there are the cuts that are just not good at all. Homewrecker in particular is a train wreck. I like a little spoken word every now and then, but it definitely does not work for Marina.
The instrumentation might be the biggest difference between this and Marina's former release. It's very polished pop, produced by several people who worked with top of the charts artists. However, it still sounds unique and very fresh on most of the tracks.
The lyrics are up and down. Like I said, Homewrecker is easily the worst here. State of Dreaming's lyrics are more interesting than the song fully assembled. Fear and Loathing takes the cake again in lyrics though. It shows just how brilliantly Marina understood what she was doing during the initial writing and recording of Electra Heart.
Notice I said initial. Electra Heart seems to suffer from what happened to Lana Del Rey's debut. Marina seems to have gotten bored with writing the initial ideas she had. Electra was a long time in the making and it seemed that new ideas kept getting piled on and on and on until the concept was almost lost. There are moments when the album is not so sure of itself. One sign on this is all the different tracks being released or not released in different countries. It looks to me as though a lot of songs were optioned for Electra Heart after the initial eight or so, and they've been switching it up in different countries to see what works best. Marina, or the powers that be behind these things, can't decide what they want this album to be. That is the fatal flaw.
If you want to check out Electra Heart, it's definitely worth a listen. But past that? That's up to you.