Saturday, June 7, 2014

Marina and the Diamonds: Electra Heart (2012)

I have been Marina’s fan since her first album The Family Jewels (2010) was released. Compared to her second album Electra Heart (2012), the first one is totally dissimilar. It seems like different personas have written and worked with albums, it is due to fact that in the first album she is not pretending to be someone else. Marina herself claims Electra Heart (the character who walks us through the second album) is not her alter ego, but frankly to me, it might not be the ultimate truth. Even though, she created fictional character, she seems very realistic and in our society we can see girls who act, talk and think or has experienced similar identity crises just like Marina’s fictional character, who she has described in her tracks. Maybe she herself has experienced unfortunate love, which helped to create trutful stereotypes. There are four characters, who are portrayed by Electra Heart, each one is a strong archetype (Teen Idle, Primadonna, Su-Barbie-A, Homewrecker). In the songs the stereotypes are not clearly defined by boundry, they coincide, which means every listener may understand the context of songs differently. Apart from the story, Marina’s vocals are remarkable. In my opinion she has an incredible voice range and such a pure and raspy tone at the same time, which indicates her fresh rawness in a professional way.
A little bit about Marina: her original name is Marina Lambrini Diamandis. She is Welsh singer-songwriter (currently 28 years old), who is known by her stage name Marina and the Diamonds. The group name represents people who have same heart and similar goals, but they just do not fit in the mainstream society. Her first studio album is combination and integration of inde pop and new wave genre elements. Indie pop is criticized firmly because of its tweeness and those musician, who are fond of this type of genre, have to work harder and find a way how to accomplish  breakthrough and establish themselves in music industry. Second album includes elements of electropop, which pops up pretty dominantly in her songs. Her fashion style is also unique – she is well-known for her retro-cartoonish-vintage-cheerleader-(little bit)childlish look. When I depict this kind of combination it seems very silly, but she outplays it and tends to make image from grotesque to captivating grown-up woman.
Instead of dissecting each Electra Heart songs individually, I think it is more important to savvy the complexity of the content and to analyize singles and videos, which is a serie. Electra Heart’s journey consist eleven parts, delivered to us by separate videos. First part is a song Fear and Loathing, where Marina abandons (kills) her identity by cutting off her hair (symbolizes her past and letting it go, making fresh start) and becomes Electra Heart. The structure of song is pretty simple, nothing overproduced and background music helps to capture Marina’s voice. Though, I think the video is too dramatical. 
Second is Radioactive, which shows how Marina engages fully to fictional character. She is having fun and living life to the fullest, taking everything it has to offer. At the same time she is using people and suppressing real feelings/emotions, I would call it denial phase. The music is nothing special, it is opened to wider audience. It is also quite catchy and refrain makes me feel good and gives invincible feeling. Part three introduces archetypes while the melody of The State of Dreaming plays. This is the part where character starts to play and experiment different identities.
Fourth part depicts drama queen: Primadonna. It is also the lead single and the official video has the most views. The lyrics are totally ironical and sarcastic, which makes this song damn good. Electra Heart is becoming outragous, arrogant and self-centered person, who starts to wear her heart on the cheek so she would not get hurt (symbol – losing vulnerability). Electropop elements fits perfectly, maybe the melody gets little bit annoying, there is not very much variability. Fifth part is a standalone passage, where the Valley of the Dolls melody plays and the mockery is represented by criticizing housewife stereotype. The video is eerie: Marina stands on the porch, facing the front door, and everything is black-and-white. I would like to point out the fact that the sixth part Power & Control is the best and culmination of the story/plot. The melody is powerful, lyrics fascinating, memoriable, confident, satirical and music video with colorless (dark-bluish-white-combination, lighting), dark atmosphere is demonstration of perfection. Some might say this song is boring and too repetitive, but I love how Marina’s colorful vocals truly comes out.
Unlike from part six, seventh one, How to Be a Heartbreaker, is fun and seems to represent a typical today’s music industry music video. It includes sexy boys, shower, beach, car scene, supercilious attitude. Song is catcy and has a good rhythm, lyrics are not good, not bad, hook is great. I would say it is an average song. I am not going to say anything about part eight, because the song is not the album. Ninth passage is an important part of the story, this is where Electra realizes she has been living in The State of Dreaming – not in reality, phrase “my life is a play” proves it. I like the beginning and ending, but when the electro-alike music plays, it is boring (maybe too repetitive). Though, lyrics are great and singing good. Tenth part Lies is basically the end of Electra, she is confronting herself and everything she has done, also the real Marina starts to show up. The video is mostly black-and-white, she is wearing almost no make-up and her vulnerability is coming forth. Comparing with other songs, I would say this particular melody has the most electropop elements. I have not decided yet if I like it or not. Marina is pushing her vocals maybe too far, which adds more sadness. Acoustic version of the song is so much better, it has more depth and emotions. Maybe it has something to do with the piano, but it beats the original version anytime. Vocals are better and it is truly a masterpiece (it even has more views on youtube).
The final part, Electra Heart, sums everything up. This track was not on the album and it is a pitty. The music is interesting – does not follow typical structure. Lyrics are meaningful. “Lights they blind me” and “can we go back to the start” says everything, there is no need for anything else – regret is pushing its path towards. Video is a flashback – it is put together by using previous videos clips: her journey. Finally the character is dead (Marina pulls off her heart on the cheek, which was the symbol of Electra).
Ofcourse there are more songs in her journey, but I have to give credit to Marina, she pulled off an amazing storyline and released eleven videos. I love how everthing is tied together and nothing stands alone in her album. It is not very typical. Usually artists tend to connect each song with the title name, atleast this is how it seems to me. Yeah, some parts of the songs are not so great (too much repetition, boring music) and I accuse her of being too femine and maybe too depressing. Only female gender can relate (when they have had similar experience or they accept stances) and hating men is too dominant, it narrows down the possibility of having wide male audience. The good news, Electra is only a fictional character and people should not take her seriously. Marina’s lyrics and vocals are really something and they should not be forgotten. I recommend to listen each song carefully. 

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