on May 8, 2012
As someone who has rather "alternative" taste in female musicians (Björk, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, etc), when I first heard "The Family Jewels" back in 2010 I was totally obsessed. The quirky welsh girl who wrote and composed her own songs on her cheap keyboard that she bought from Argos totally captured my imagination and became one of my favourite artists. Her music was the perfect combination of "indie" and pop - and it was a relief to actually have an album of fun pop music that actually had some credibility. It was some of the most beautiful pop music I had ever heard.
In 2011 she surprised us all by releasing the very commercially influenced "Radioactive", and I became rather worried about this next album. When "Primadonna" came out I was relieved. Yes, it was sugary bubblegum pop, but Marina's voice sounded amazing and her pretty quirkiness was back and actually sounded really cool surrounded by the commercial but well produced beats courtesy of Dr Luke. I resisted the urge to write a review straight away, as many other reviewers have, as I wanted to live with the album for a while and know how I felt about it.
The album starts with "Bubblegum Bitch", which sounds like a song from the opening credits from a 90's American teen chick film ("Clueless" springs to mind for me). "Lies" and "Starring Role" are both very currently commercial in their sound, but Marina's lyrics and genuine sounding vocal delivery rescue them from being total sell-outs.
"The State Of Dreaming" starts out sounding like its title - dreamy, ethereal and beautiful, and suddenly explodes into a very poppy, sweet but catchy chorus. "Power and Control" and "Living Dead" use powerful 80's sounding beats and epic choruses and work very well.
A few reviewers have said the second half of the album gets a bit dull, but I think it's where the album really turns into a better, more satisfying direction. "Teen Idle" is atmospheric, dark, and beautifully layered. Those who loved "I Am Not A Robot" and "Numb" from the previous album will be relieved to know that Marina hasn't lost her touch for writing beautiful melancholic pop songs. The lyrics (about a suicidal teenager who wishes she were popular) and production make it quite a dark song, so it's interesting to hear cheerleader chants being used in such an interesting, creative, and actually quite beautiful way - almost as if their presence depresses the "character" singing the song and actually cheer on the fact that she is suicidal.
The final four tracks on the special edition are really good. "Radioactive" sounds really good in context with the rest of the album. "Buy the Stars" is classic Marina - it sounds like "Obsessions" but is actually far more beautiful; silly not be included in the album, but perhaps too similar in style to "The Family Jewels" to be officially included.
What makes this album stand out is Marina's unique vocals, lyrics and melodies, and even the production has a unique edge to it - chirping birds, deep bass lines, and strange electronic effects. It's an interesting mix of sweet and sugary combined with dark melancholia, conjuring up images of Barbie (or some other high profile names in the pop world) on a hangover from alcohol and illegal substances and re-evaluating whether the "glamorous" and pretentious life and relationships she's created for herself are actually making her happy.
There's a lot being said about this album being Marina "selling-out" - do I think it's true? No! The lyrics and vocals sound genuine and are beautifully performed. The songs themselves are wonderfully written - Marina is a wonderfully gifted and clever song writer. This may be a pop album, but it's full of well written songs and lyrical substance to back it up. It may not be the experimental masterpiece that "The Family Jewels" was, but it's a wonderfully melancholic pop album from a wonderful, genuine, and honest artist nonetheless.
on June 4, 2012
There are several reviews that already go on at length as to why this album is so awesome---it's quirky, funny, melodic yet edgy, melancholic yet musically upbeat, Marina has a great voice etc etc etc....All these things are true though. For me though, this album is the perfect example of taking mainstreamish beats (enough so that they are instantly catchy) and layering them with rich, textured lyrics and singing. This album is just fun. It's edgy bubblegum pop at its shiniest and brightest.
on September 22, 2012
So this is one of those times when I wish I could grant four and a half stars. On the one hand, there's just no way that this sophomore album is as good as the first. On the other hand, "The Family Jewels" towers majestically above every other pop album of 2010 as far as I'm concerned, so docking "Electra Heart" a full star on that basis alone really wouldn't be fair.
In the end, I had to go with the five stars, because even a Marina who's toned down the quirkiness in pursuit of mass dance-pop appeal makes me extremely happy. Fellow Diamonds will argue that she's being *ironic*, and while I might respond pedantically that she's also trying to have her cake and eat it too on that front: the fact remains that cake is good, and if any pop singer can get away with not having to choose one or the other, that pop singer might just have to be Marina Diamandis.
Potential buyers should note that there are a few different physical and digital releases of "Electra Heart." For the most part, you'll be good to go with the U.S. standard edition, which removes one track ("Living Dead") from the U.K. standard edition but adds three others: "Radioactive" (a promo single which I find extremely disposable, but YMMV), "How to Be a Heartbreaker" (a much stronger single which wasn't ready in time for the U.K. editions), and "Sex Yeah" (the best of three B-sides from the U.K. deluxe edition, with its feminist musings and a playful pinch of Marina's trademark self-deprecation: "Question what the TV tells you / Question what a pop star sells you / Question Mom and question Dad / Question good and question bad"). If you like what you hear, though, I recommend tracking down "Living Dead" on one of those Other Music Services, along with "Lonely Hearts Club" and "Buy the Stars" from the U.K. deluxe edition, because they're all solid songs.
I decided to name this review after a song that Peter Gabriel wrote a while back, because Marina has joined Gabriel himself in a fairly small circle of artists whose head (and heart) sounds enough like mine for the effect to be joyous bordering on a little bit creepy. She's smart, she's funny, she writes lethal hooks...game, set, match.
on July 12, 2012
Now, I've been a fan & admirer of Welsh lass Marina since "The Family Jewels" was new in the UK in 2010...I am a hardcore Anglophile mind you...and saw her twice in NYC in 2011...and was told she was bigger in the US than the UK...surprised me, as an online cult is not out in the open...when I met her (charming as heck), she said she was recording this album in LA and was immersed in Americana pop culture, working again with The Bird & The Bee's Greg Kurstin (he produced "Oh No!! on TFJ), and was inking to get back there...our Marina was overflowing with ideas, and based on the results...the utterly beguiling "Electra Heart"...it was totally worth the wait.
This is an S-M-A-R-T pop record of the highest order. Using common pop language to communicate her unique outsider Welsh/UK-bred ideas and reflections (funny and sad and ironic) on Americana and pop culture in ways that anyone will understand. Certain songs grab you immediately with an utterly Katy Perry-type of warble she's grown into...if "Primadonna" doesn't remind you of KP and have you thinking it could be her next hit, your ears are clogged...BUT this is not a bad thing!! I do like Katy Perry, she does know what she's doing and "Teenage Dream" is a well crafted pop album, absolutely, but that album is missing an unpredictable, creative quirky intelligence that Marina delivers 100% of the time like on "Primadonna", an amazing pop song...Marina is a smart observant creative type that uses catchy-as-heck pop forms as social commentary...not many people can pull this off well like our heroine can.
What's even cooler is that certain tracks grab you by the collar instantly with their catchy bubblegum-type of approach like the 1st 3 tracks..."Bubblegum B*tch" (I'm sure people like Katy are slapping themselves thinking why didn't I think of that title?? LOL.), "Primadonna" and the gorgeous "Lies", while others reveal their secrets S-L-O-W-L-Y...so she keeps you listening and coming back and finding new favourites, maintaining your interest. Right now, I'm loving "Teen Idle", the US-only "How To Be A Heartbreaker" (such a fun song), and the gorgeous closer "Fear & Loathing" has me amazed (Marina's spectral dramatic delivery may remind some of Florence Welch which I hear too but more pop and even a drop of Regina Spektor like on TFJ's "I Am Not A Robot")..."Valley Of The Dolls" is another favourite. As another reviewer said, "Electra Heart" IS indeed cinematic, which is amazingly cool. I hope this record wins awards and garners her a bigger US audience...it is coming from what I found out.
This US edition is better than the UK regular...it did remove "Living Dead"...I'm sure you can find the track online, or Elektra in America (is there a more apt label for this record?? I don't think so.) will have this song on a soundtrack in the future...and adds 3 songs in its place...the amazing gleefully fun "How To Be A Heartbreaker", and 2 tracks (out of 4) from the UK deluxe...the original 1st single "Radioactive"...I love that song, don't see why it was left off the UK regular, weird...and "Sex Yeah", which is cool commentary on relationships. And the track order is satisfying because the 2nd half is not all slower songs...it mixes things up more.
All in all, I am THRILLED with this record, and word is indeed spreading about "Electra Heart"...a triumph indeed...and Marina deserves everything coming her way...it already hit #1 in the UK & Ireland...we'll see if she follows her fellow UK labelmate in the US, Ed Sheeran into the US Top 5...I'd be pleasantly shocked if she does, but this will debut high from the buzz...it is selling out in various stores.
Go Marina!!! Well done!!
on January 18, 2016
I have never heard of this artist before this album, unlike many of the other reviewers that have been following her career. I love all kinds of music and get bored, even with great albums after listening to them a few times because the music and lyrics lose their effect after you hear them over and over again. I choose a lot of my music by sampling songs from albums or hearing one really good song I like and then doing research on that artist to see if they have a catalogue of songs I like. I still buy cd albums so, I don't buy just based on liking for 2 or 3 songs, I usually have to like/love more than 50% of the songs to purchase the album.
That being said, I was especially draw to Electric Heart after hearing the 30 second sample tunes, because there was a different sound to the songs and I practically liked every clip I heard!
Now most albums never live up to having all the songs being as good as you think they were when you hear the sample. Some will sound better but invariably some don't sound as good. The difference of with this album is that the songs keep you hooked even after hearing them several times. I guess many have tried to sum up the value of her style. Pop culture music with more complicated arrangements that make them more than just pop with lyrics that touch your soul and just enough quirkiness and multi layers that don't make you get tired of it after listening a couple of times. Whatever she has it is very good. This is the first album that have in my car cd player that I have listened for over 2 weeks straight and I am not tired of hearing it. This was surprising to me and that is what drove me to write this review. I am now on the hunt for more of her music!
on September 7, 2015
STOP RIGHT THERE. Okay, thanks. I am absolutely not going to review the music for you. If you're a human being looking at purchasing this imported Compact Disc (CD), then chances are, you already like the music.
Well, since you've decided to continue reading. I'll cut to the chase: buy THIS version of Electra Heart if you want the most songs. In the E.H. era of Marina and the Diamonds, she released many variations of her album. Particularly, a "I think I finished this album" US and UK version, and then she later put together 'How to be a Heartbreaker.' Great song, but you won't find it here unfortunately. And on top of that, there's this version. The Deluxe Edition. Don't be fooled, though. There are other Deluxe Editions of Electra Heart on Amazon, and while they're not fakes, they aren't as deluxe as this one. This one contains the standard 3 bonus songs (Radioactive, Lonely Hearts Club, and Buy The Stars), but also includes the US variant track: Sex Yeah.
Pro tip: Sex Yeah was on the US standard edition and Living Dead was on the UK standard edition.
There was a time when you couldn't get it all, but now you can, and ALL IN ONE GOSHDARN COMPACT DISC (CD). Get out there kids, and listen to your heart's content. THIS Deluxe Edition is the all-inclusive edition; it just only lacks the later released 'How to be a Heartbreaker.' :(
on August 2, 2012
I've been OBSESSED with Marina and the Diamonds for the past month. I started off listening to songs from her first album 'The Family Jewels'. It took me a while to get used to her quirkiness and digest her extremely unique voice, but once I did: I was hooked.
So, I moved on to 'Electra Heart' Diamandis' second album. (For clarification Marina and the Diamonds is a SOLOIST, NOT a band; the diamonds are you and I, her fans).
My immediate reaction was "Dang, she sold out." She went from being a brunette to a peroxide-blonde with massive roots, she went from quirky new-wave music, to Britney Spears pop. I initially lost a lot of respect to her. But I gave 'Electra Heart' a chance.
My thoughts on this album have changed COMPLETELY. It is REVOLUTIONARY. Seriously, I have not been obsessed with an artist like this since Florence +the Machine. This girl knows what she's doing, this 'Electra Heart' album is meant to be a COMPLETE mockery of pop culture and American society. At face-value it looks and sounds like what you'd expect from a Britney/Madonna wannabe, but once you read into the lyrics and the concepts, you'll realize you couldn't be more wrong.
Give her a chance, every person I've introduced her to has fallen in LOVE with her. Even my metal-head friends who listen to screamo have grown fond of her, this is no Katy Perry, this is no ordinary pop. This is revolutionary, catchy, cheeky, genius to say the least. But PLEASE do yourself a favor and listen to 'The Family Jewels' as well, you'll understand this album much better, otherwise Marina will just come off as a dumb bimbo (which was 100% her intention in my opinion). The album overall can be described as Marina's 'Trojan Horse', she is clearly poking fun at the archetypes that pervade our pop culture: the Teen Idol, the Homewrecker, the Beauty Queen, the Housewife, etc. Take a listen, I promise you will love it.
1) 'Bubblegum Bitch' 4/5
I cringed when I first saw the title for this track, I thought it belonged in Madonna's new album 'MDNA'. It's produced to be radio-friendly, catchy, bitchy as the title suggests. But it reveals a lot about how Marina sees young girls and the culture surrounding them. You will become obsessed after a few listens.
2) 'Primadonna' 5/5
The catchiest track in the whole album, meant to be so. Produced by Dr. Luke, this tune will stay stuck in your head for WEEKS. 'Primadonna' sounds like something that Katy Perry would put out; it clearly pokes fun at the pop idols of our time with lines like: "Get what I want cause I ask for it, not because I'm really that deserving of it." OUCH! This song is also clearly a follow up to Marina's previous hit from her first album, 'Hollywood'.
3) 'Lies' 5/5
A wonderful ballad, with a dubstep inspired tune. She managed to turn a sad song, into a pop song. Some call it, the ultimate friend-zoned song. Judge for yourself: "You're never gonna love me, so what's the use? What's the point in playing, a game you're gonna lose?"
4) 'Homewrecker' 3/5
One of my least favorites, only because it's the ugliest archetype in my opinion. "They call me homewrecker! Homewrecker! I break a million hearts just for fun, I don't belong to anyone." I can already see 12 year old girls singing this and posting lyrics on FB enveloped in the vacuous lyrics without realizing Marina's genius sarcasm.
5) 'Starring Role' 5/5
"You know I'd rather walk alone, than play a supporting role...If I can't get the starring role." My favorite song in the album when it comes to lyrics, it's a wonderful and heartfelt song. Perhaps the most genuine show of Marina's ACTUAL personality and not the 'Electra Heart' character.
6) 'The State of Dreaming' 3/5
"Millions of girls float on their one quote" referring to Marilyn Monroe's famous "If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve to see me at my best." speech. This song is one of the least appealing when it comes to sound, but one of the best when it comes to lyrics.
7) 'Power & Control' 5/5
Too dark to be a radio-hit, but man is it good. My favorite line "Think you're funny? Think you're smart? Think you're gonna break my heart? Yeah, you may be good looking but you're not a piece of art." Watch the video, it's great. Definitely my favorite out of the entire album.
8) 'Sex Yeah' 5/5
Again, this is one of the songs that initially turned me off along with 'Bubblegum Bitch'. Once I listened to the lyrics (these require a lot less interpretation than the others) it was clear that this monster of a song was not to be compared to the common pop of Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. "If women were religiously recognized sexually, we wouldn't have to feel the need, to show our ass-ets to feel free."
9) 'Teen Idle' 5/5
Any outsider will be able to relate to this one "Wish I'd been a prom queen fighting for the title, instead of being sixteen and burning up a Bible." A wonderfully produced tune with great lyrics.
10) 'Valley of the Dolls' 4/5
Perhaps the saddest song on this album, this song explores the price of fame in modern society. "In the valley of the dolls we sleep, got a hole inside of me, living with identities, that do not belong to me." Social commentary on the production of pop stars, who are really nothing but puppets of the labels. It's refreshing to hear a POP star singing about it.
11) 'Hypocrates' 1/5
A track that in my opinion could have been omitted from the track list without having a major impact on the rest of the album. It carries essentially the same message as 'Lies' and 'Starring Role'. "I know you only want to own me, and that's the kind of love you show me."
12) 'How to be a Heartbreaker' 4/5
Marina's attempt at breaking through the U.S. market and climb the charts. "Rule number one, is that you gotta have fun, but baby when you're done you gotta be the first to run." It sounds like pop, it is pop, not the most mind-opening song on the album. It's catchy, but reveals almost nothing. More of a filler meant to make Marina more famous. Produced by Dr. Luke, expect to hear this on the radio very soon.
13) 'Radioactive' 4/5
Strangely reminiscent of Rihanna's "We Found Love", 'Radioactive' was actually produced and RELEASED before the latter. One of the poppiest songs on the album, it's a good listen. Not her best. "In the night your heart is full and by the morning empty. But baby I'm the one who left you, you're not the one who left me."
14) 'Fear and Loathing' 4/5
This song was the first tune to have a video released for it on YouTube, yet it's the last song on the album's tracklist. Huh? It seems like the 'Fear and Loathing' is Marina's true concern for becoming vacuous and shallow like the character she champions through 'Electra Heart'. "I've lived a lot of different lives, been different people many times, I've lived my life in bitterness and filled my heart with emptiness." This song is the death of the character 'Electra Heart', her redemption and her fall. Back to the old Marina please!
15) 'Buy the Stars' 5/5 [NOT IN U.S. RELEASE]
BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL song that is unfortunately not included on the U.S. release, look it up on YouTube. A fine ballad with great raw emotion. Some people say she's talking about the Illuminati's influence on today's pop music, who knows! "You bought a star in the sky tonight, because your life is dark, and it needs some light, you named it after me but I'm not yours to keep. Because, you'll never see, that the stars are free."
16) 'Lonely Hearts Club' 5/5 [NOT IN U.S. RELEASE]
A throwback to 'The Family Jewels' era, this song incorporates quirky beats and sounds that make it one of the least mainstream-sounding songs on the album. One of my favorites. "Love will never be forever, feelings are just like the weather. January to December, do you wanna be a member?"
17) 'Living Dead' 4/5 [NOT IN U.S. RELEASE]
This is another non-essential track in the album, so I see why Diamandis decided to not release it to the U.S. crowd and replace it with 'How to be a Heartbreaker'. Though non-essential, it's a shame that U.S. fans won't get this tune on this release. It sounds great, lyrics are ok. "I haven't lived life, I haven't lived love, just protect me from the sky above. I lay back in a glittering mist, and I, I think of all the men I could've kissed."
on August 18, 2015
The first thing that I ever heard from Marina and the Diamonds was "Teen Idle," and it floored me. Vocals, lyrics, arrangement. It's so far beyond the easy path that most pop music follows. Anyway, Electra Heart has plenty of other gems. "Lies" and "Starring Role" are some of my other favorites. I like this album more than The Family Jewels because I think that it's a stronger, more even set of songs on the whole and I also like the production on this one. It is more electronic and louder, but for this kind of music, it works. The energy is great. As other reviewers have said, Marina proves that music can be catchy, edgy and thoughtful at the same time.
on July 13, 2012
I really enjoyed Marina and the Diamonds first cd, I actually had no idea a second one had come out, so thanks Amazon recommendations! I'm not the first to note that there is a Katy Perry-esque vibe in spots, but the difference is the intelligent lyrics. So whereas the first cd was a little more Kate Bush quirky, this one is a little more Kate Perry poppy - definitely worth the 3.99 for the deluxe version (price at time of review)
on August 4, 2012
I was excited for Marina's new album as soon as I heard the concept. I fell in love with every new song as it was released, especially because most of them dealt with heartbreak and loneliness - something I was going through at the same time.
However, when the whole album was released, I was very disappointed as the album was very repetitive. They were good as standalone tracks, but too many of the songs deal with heartbreak. Both Starring Role and Lies are about the same thing and share lyrical similarities. Bubblegum Bitch and Primadonna are also very alike, though the songs do sound very different musically. And I felt that the four archetypes were underdeveloped.
After listening for some time though, I grew to love the album more and more. Though the songs seem alike lyrically, each song sounds different from the rest. The songs are strong and catchy. But the whole album gets stronger towards the end. Teen Idle and Valley of the Dolls are absolutely haunting. Hypocrates is a very feel-good song, and Fear and Loathing is the perfect ending for this concept album. The album isn't perfect, but I still give it 5 stars simply because Marina's voice is amazing throughout.
I would definitely recommend this album to anyone, Marina fan or not. Especially the UK deluxe version, which comes with 4 extra tracks. Radioactive, Sex Yeah, Lonely Hearts Club (beautiful song), and Buy the Stars.