Following on from the high profile pop of 2012’s Electra Heart album, Marina And The Diamonds have returned with new outing Froot.
Electra Heart had been marked out by its concept album approach in which Marina Diamandis played around with ideas of female stereotypes cast against the widescreen stage of American culture. It’s a pool that the likes of Lana Del Ray also dabble in and it’s clear that Marina was continuing to explore that fascination with Americana that had been evident in earlier tracks such as ‘Hollywood’.
For the new album the Welsh singer/songwriter opted for material that was more under her control, writing all the tracks herself and limiting production duties to herself and David Kosten (known previously for production work with the likes of Bat for Lashes) to forge a much more personal and intimate record.
That theme is evident from the outset in the stripped down melancholia of opening track ‘Happy’ in which Marina equates the pursuit of happiness with, amongst other things, penning a good tune. At the same time, the kinetic pop that Miss Diamandis displayed on earlier tracks, such as ‘Shampain’ and ‘Primadonna’ isn’t entirely absent on this release. The quirky pop of ‘Froot’ plays with lyrical games involving fruity metaphors that give us strawberries and cream (where lesser talents would give us a raspberry).
Equally, ‘Forget’ is one of Froot’s hidden gems with catchy hooks and a euphoric chorus. It’s lyrical themes of regret and moving forward utilise Marina’s smart wordplay as she regrets the times spent chasing rabbits when “I was born to be the tortoise/I was born to walk alone”.
Froot also serves up self-doubt and introspection that picks at darker themes. ‘I’m A Ruin’ shows guilt at breaking up a relationship with Marina’s airy vocals soaring over spacey rhythms and melodies.
That broken relationship introspective carries over to the bassy pop of ‘Blue’ that showcases Marina’s trademark operatic trills, while offering uncertainty and doubt in it’s tortured lyrics dealing with regret and self esteem.
‘Can’t Pin Me Down’ shares more of those soaring vocals on an angry song that challenges concepts of categorising people. “Time to back off motherfucker” growls the Welsh songstress in a song that executes Marina’s knack for lyrical wordplay as she bounces between contradictions in her character.
There’s also a simmering rage on the insistent pop of ‘Savages’, a track that took partial inspiration from the brutality of events such as the Boston Marathon bombing. “Underneath it all we’re just savages” suggests Marina as she reflects on the more unpleasant aspects of human nature.
Meanwhile, there’s pure, unabashed pop appeal on ‘Better Than That’ which delivers an effective slice of percussive melodies and confident lyrical delivery.
Closing track ‘Immortal’ bears similarities to ‘Teen Idle’ (from Electra Heart) with its simple, breathy vocal intro and washes of sound. It’s a broody slice of introspection musing on themes of life and death and remembrance.
Froot is ultimately an album that manages the tricky task of straddling intimacy and reflection with some full-on power pop bangers. The polished production, with its use of space and mood, finishes the job with style and delivers yet another classic Marina And The Diamonds effort.
Froot is available via Amazon
He writes for outlets such as J-Pop Go, Electronic Sound, All The Anime and The Electricity Club. He ran the Julian Cope-focused Screaming Secrets for many years and also administers Virginia Astley's official website.
He has been featured in a variety of press and media features including the Metro and Japan Update Weekly.
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