Friday, April 13, 2012

Marina and the Diamonds previews 'Electra Heart' album - listen now!

Someone hasn't shaved...
Indie-pop darling Marina Lambrini Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds, dropped the lead single off her new LP 'Electra Heart' a couple weeks ago, and it is brilliant.  It is called 'Primadonna' and is the kind of tune that Katy Perry would be doing if she was less concerned with her chart placing and more concerned with being an actual musical artist.  And also if she actually wrote anything with like, meaning.  The track is hard-hitting both musically and lyrically, with a combination of sunny beats and withering social commentary that we really haven't heard since Lily Allen burst on the scene.  

Understandably, the unbridled brilliance of 'Primadonna' raised expectations for its parent album, but everyone can now stop wringing their hands in fearful anticipation because it appears that the entire album is LEGITIMATELY QUITE AMAZING.

Marina's people have chucked a nifty Youtube sampler thingy on the interwebs, and we've done you the favor of pasting it below.  You should probably go ahead and click "play" on it since we have a lot of ground to cover before we get there.  You might as well multi-task. 

If you followed our advice (and if you didn't you're a dick) you're a few seconds into the opening track, and already are beginning to realize what we already know:  if the half-minute clips are anything to go by this will be one of the best pop albums of the year.  It's timely without being gimmicky, deep without being inaccessible, and, perhaps most importantly, full of Marina's personality and (many) vocal quirks.  We mention that last bit as the "most important" because with Ms. and the Diamonds' swing toward the slick radio-friendly sound of mainstream radio, she ran the risk of her tunes sounding like everything else that's out at the moment.  

Nearly all the tracks are balls-to-the-wall bangers and nearly all of them are amazing.  Sure, the dubstep thing seems a bit unnecessary, and not all the songs reach out and grab the listener right away, but we're prepared to give it a preliminary 7.5 out of 10 solely for the apparent absence of any autotune.  Add in the presence of SOLID TUNES and an opening stomper called 'Bubblegum Bitch' and we have on our hands an album with a hearty 8 out of 10 rating.

Of course none of this necessarily will translate into actual success for the singer.  She's long been knocking around as "one to watch" but as the pop world veers ever further into the seething chasm of slick, soulless tracks with no personality, it only becomes harder for artists who refuse to pitch-correct themselves into chart clones to actually make any impact.  It's the same problem facing the Scissor Sisters' new track - the production, energy and hook are all there.  But the jury's still out on whether the masses will give a chance to something with a little more substance than "I HAVE FALLEN INTO AN AUTOTUNE MACHINE WHILE CLUBBING AND SLEEPING WITH MANY PARTNERS."

In fact, the subject matter Marina covers often preaches against the vapid and fame-obsessed pop culture assembly-line that has steamrolled the music industry with its synth-laden sameness.  But by burying her subversive messages in catchy hooks and sparkly beats rather than her usual brand of acoustic-y indie pop, she might just be on to something.  That she made the switch to dance music without losing her viewpoint and her own sense of artistry - indeed Marina seems to play the role of pop vixen with a knowing wink - makes the whole thing all the more impressive.  And on 'Electra Heart,' her somehow "authentic" transition to dance diva, Marina uses the masses' own musical weapons against them.  The only question is whether anyone will fall for it.