This article is an update to the review of just the Love part of the album.
Marina releases first part of upcoming double album Love + Fear
Marina (formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds) announced her comeback at the start of the year and launched her single ‘Handmade Heaven’ with the promise of a double album dropping later this year. We learned that the record is titled Love + Fear and was supposed to be released entirely on the 26th of April. On the 4th of April however, the Welsh-Greek pop artist surprised everyone by sharing the first half, simply titled Love, already. On social media she explained how she created the two parts as seperate albums and wants to give her fans the chance to experience them as such. We now have the full album together and it is her first work since 2015’s LP Froot. A Bit of Pop Music reviews the new album track by track!
01. Handmade Heaven
‘Handmade Heaven’ was chosen as the first single of the project. The uplifting light electronic midtempo pop track is quintessentially Marina with her signature vocals moving from deep tones to soaring high notes. The chorus has a beautiful melody that sonically represents the ‘handmade heaven’ she is singing about. In my humble opinion it was not the strongest track to lead the project with, but a worthy addition to her discography either way.
On second single ‘Superstar’ Marina moved to more basic, radiofriendly pop with a predictable instrumental drop as a post-chorus. Having said that, she makes the genre of the ‘tropical bop’ her own with her unique vocals and strong melodies. The production is on point and lyrically it is a proper love song. Not one of Marina’s strongest or unique tracks, but it has its place on this record!
03. Orange Trees
If you want to fault Marina for releasing more basic pop tunes this time around, ‘Orange Trees’ is the one to complain about, but I simply can’t because it is so damn infectious! This breezy, guitar-driven tune brings summer straight through your speakers and I can’t help but smile every time I hear the chorus kick in with the ‘flowers in my hair’ lyric. This will be such a good soundtrack to summer and the fact that she wrote it about the Greek island where her family is from, gives it some extra nostalgic quality.
04. Baby (feat. Clean Bandit & Luis Fonsi)
Marina’s Clean Bandit collaboration ‘Baby’ arrived at the end of last year and lead into the release of the band’s album What Is Love?. Clean Bandit weren’t able to lift Marina’s chart curse as the summer bop did not make it past the 15th position in the UK charts. At first I thought this tune would be more of a Clean Bandit track which happened to have Marina’s vocals, but the track does actually make sense in the context of Love.
05. Enjoy Your Life
‘Enjoy Your Life’ was teased on Marina’s Instagram last year. This bouncy synth pop anthem is one of the most uplifting and carefree tracks she has ever put her name to. There are some clear 80s influences in the flawless production by OZGO and Oscar Holter. Lyrically Marina urges her listeners to not worry about everything in life and to sometimes just embrace the problems you are facing and to enjoy your life either way. What a bop!
‘True’ was produced by OZGO and co-written by Marina, Noonie Bao, OZGO and Oscar Holter. The upbeat electronic pop banger starts out promising, with suspenseful verses, but the chorus could have used a bit more bite. From the middle-eight on, the production picks up slightly and the last chorus therefore hits a little harder, but in terms of melodies, this is certainly not Marina’s strongest moment.
07. To Be Human
In comparison to most of the tracks on Love, ‘To Be Human’ is definitely more classic Marina (and the Diamonds). The midtempo pop track, produced by frequent Lorde collaborator Joel Little, is guided by a piano melody while drums kick in during the first chorus. Marina describes a whole lot of places in the verses in her signature, sometimes quite literal, writing style, stating that she has travelled all over the world but still wonders what the meaning is of being human. The delicate ad libs she does over the last chorus form one of her finest vocal moments ever!
08. End of the Earth
‘End of the Earth’, co-written with Jospeh Janiak and James Flannigan and produced by Flannigan, is the most ominous sounding track of the Love side, but at the same time has a loving message. “I’ll give my love, I don’t care if it hurts, ’cause I’ll love you ’till the end of the earth”, she sings over thunderous drums and deep synths. The climax in the last minute is a spectacular way to end this side of the double album, as it is the most adventurous moment production wise.
09. Believe In Love
The Fear side starts out with ‘Believe In Love’, a midtempo tune with punchy beats in the verses that sound inspired by the productions on Taylor Swift’s Reputation. The chorus however, has a more laidback vibe and soaring melodies on which Marina’s characteristic vocals are given room to shine. In the lyrics, Marina tries to convince herself to believe in love again and give the person that entered her life a chance. It is a lyrically more hopeful start of this side of the album than expected!
10. Life Is Strange
The Joel Little produced ‘Life Is Strange’ was chosen as the track that received a push on the New Music Friday playlists on Spotify. It is a logical choice as the song is one of the more instant tunes of the second lot. The string sample that runs throughout tune is very catchy and the same goes for the vocal melodies at the end of the chorus. In the lyrics, Marina seems to realize that she is not the only one who does not know what to do with her life and that we simply have to accept that we don’t know what is coming as life is strange. Preach it sister!
‘You’ is one of the more uptempo cuts of the Fear side of the album. The production is simple and straightforward, while the composition is extremely poppy. The repetition of Marina’s high pitched ‘you’ is infectious without getting on the nerves easily. Marina admits in the lyrics that she is just as flawed as the person who is breaking her down. We love an honest bop!
On ‘Karma’, Marina shows her anger about influential men both in the music and movie industry falling off their pedestals for abusing their power. Marina watches as karma catches up with them over a seemingly carefree tune with a summer vibe going on. There even seems to be some Greek laika influences in the rhythm and instrumentation of the post-chorus parts. It is easily one of the catchiest and strongest tunes of the whole album!
13. Emotional Machine
‘Emotional Machine’ was one of the first songs that Marina presented of this era. She performed it live for the first time last year. The track is co-written with Caleb and Georgia Nott from New Zealand electro pop duo Broods. Georgia provides backing vocals as well. The result is a smooth light electro pop production with a hypnotic, yet slightly repetitive chorus.
14. Too Afraid
Midtempo pop tune ‘Too Afraid’ is easy to forget on first listen and nothing about it really stands out on first listen, but once you get the know the lyrics a little better, you find out they actually tell an honest story about Marina’s life. She explained how the song is about struggling to make actual changes and the challenges of city life. She even said how the track has helped her to make the necessary changes to find happiness so we totally see why ‘Too Afraid’ is special to her!
15. No More Suckers
‘No More Suckers’ is directed at the people in Marina’s life that try to take advantage of her. They don’t contribute anything to her life, but just eat her food and mess up her towels! Together with Alex Hope and James Flannigan she wrote a sassy little tune about it with an effortlessly catchy chorus. A read has never sounded so breezy before! We love it when our pop stars deliver important life advise over hooks for days.
16. Soft To Be Strong
Marina closes the album delicately with the gorgeous ballad ‘Soft To Be Strong’. It is a cute love song that talks about how a relationship grows stronger when you actually dare to show your soft and vulnerable side to the person you want to be with. A beautiful thought, packed in an impeccable melody that closes Marina’s accomplished fourth studio album.
On Love + Fear, Marina shows herself to be more mature and carefree than ever before, which causes her tunes to be generally slightly more basic and at the same time contemporary sounding. Although this might not be the best work of her career, the melodies are still very much on point on most of the songs and the productions are lush! While she delivers the bops in the first half, the more mature and deep lyrics follow in the second. A well balanced record that sure was worth the wait!
Great review. Can’t wait for FEAR either