Marina finds herself on grown up third album
Welsh pop star Marina & the Diamonds is back with a third album. After the outstanding, quirky debut The Family Jewels and the electro pop filled second record Electra Heart she seems to have found herself on FROOT, an album that she completely wrote herself and represents what she stands for artistically and musically. But what does that mean in terms of quality? Does she need collaborations in order to produce outstanding tracks or is she able to do it all on her own?
The album campaign for FROOT started out with an interesting releasing strategy, announced by Marina. She launched the title track and first single in October and explained how she would release a new track of the album each month (a project called ‘Froot of the Month’) until its release that was planned in April, but got moved to March because of the record leaking online. The tracks have been doing well for her on iTunes, but the risk of this strategy is that all the good songs are already out once the album drops. Luckily, this wasn’t the case for FROOT, altough the lyrically brilliant, melodically uplifting and inspired by disco from the 70s and 80s title track and the gorgeous and painfully honest single ‘I’m A Ruin’ remain the best tracks.
The album opens with the touching, but uplifting ballad ‘Happy’ (Froot of the month December) that shows that Marina does not need anymore than just a piano to impress. The closing track of the album ‘Immortal’ (Froot of the month January) is a ballad as well in which Marina sings about essential questions about live and the purpose of us being here (‘I’m forever chasing after time, but everybody dies’). It might a bit heavy but as an album closer it works perfectly as it leaves an impression and keeps you thinking. The best slow track on the album however, might be ‘Solitaire’. The moody atmosphere is created by an electronic layer of sounds and the lyrics are once again sharp, personal and relatable. The ‘I’m not cursed, I was just covered in dirt’ is goosebumps inducing.
Luckily for all the fans she gained during her big pop campaign for the Electra Heart album, there are some big pop choruses to be found on this record as well. ‘Blue’ is the most instant poppy song on FROOT as it almost sounds like she wrote it for Carly Rae Jepsen’s new project. Froot of the month March called ‘Forget’ has a ‘right in your face’ sort of approach and is built up with hook after hook and especially the middle-eight is quite brilliant.
So that’s that. Marina definitely does not need all kinds of hit writers and producers to create a strong hook and sharp lyrics. With this album she proves she can be brutally honest (I’ A Ruin’), insightful about her own complexity (‘Do you really want me to write a feminist anthem, I’m happy cooking dinner in the kitchen for my husband’ in ‘Can’t Pin Me Down’), and question the ways of mankind (‘Savages’) all packed in beautiful melodies with memorable hooks and great productions (with co-producer David Kosten).
Listening to Electra Heart sometimes felt like witnessing Marina playing a character and chasing a hit (not that it was a bad thing, because the album was filled with loads of brilliant pop songs), but FROOT gives you the feeling you really get to know her, both as an artist and as a person. She completely follows her own path on this one and good for her. She delivers an honest, consistent, cohesive and above all convincing third album.
Must listen: Froot, I’m A Ruin, Solitaire, Happy, Can’t Pin Me Down.