Producer: Marina Diamandis, David Kosten
Released: 13 March 2015
The Family Jewels, the debut album by Marina & the Diamonds, was full of quirky little pop songs criticising the modern society and pop culture in a witty, Lily Allen-esque way. However, when making pop music, being witty and clever tends to go over the head of the audience. So for her second album, Marina invented the persona of Elektra Heart; a vapid and superficial bleach blonde pop-starlet singing about love and relationships. While a similarly clever criticism of pop culture in its own way, Marina forgot one crucial thing about her stealth parody: no amount of knowing winks and sarcastic smirking while making bland and forgettable pop music will change the fact that you’re still making bland and forgettable pop music.
Learning from the experience, Marina shed the Elektra Heart persona and returned to performing as herself for her third album, the curiously misspelled Froot. Maybe she’s a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy. The soundscape of the album is sort of a middle ground between the more organic indie pop of The Family Jewels and the electronic overproduction of Elektra Heart.
‘Middle Ground’ seems to be the carrying theme of the album; the lyrics are mostly about love and relationships like on Elektra, but with more clever little insights similar to the lyrics on Jewels. “Savages” is a welcome return back to the criticism of modern society. The album includes both bare-bones piano ballads similar to Jewels and more electronic ones like on Elektra, with the exception that here the electronic ballads like “Solitaire” are not completely anaemic. Most of the songs are good and catchy, and the album works as a cohesive whole, but apart from the few gems like “I’m A Ruin”, “Weeds” and the title track, nothing really excels. Apart from Marina’s voice, which is phenomenal as always, ranging effortlessly from booming alto to quivering soprano, simultaneously fragile and strong, like a fluttering butterfly on steroids.
The ‘Middle Ground’ thing is the biggest problem of the album: it’s the quiet invisible middle child between the excelling wunderkind and the fuck-up black sheep. It’s the inevitable step in the gutter while getting back on the road after having strayed into the muddy field.