on May 27, 2010
I haven't enjoyed a cd this much since Florence and the Machine's "Lungs" from last year. Marina Diamandis is like a mixture of Regina Spektor, Kate Nash, and Santigold with dare I say it, a little Katy Perry attitude thrown in. But make no mistake, Marina has her own distinct voice and unique interpretation on a genre that is starting to gain in popularity. Marina has till this point received virtually zero recognition in the States, and I sincerely hope with this lp people everywhere will gain an appreciation for this wildly talented artist.
If I had to describe this album in one word-it would simply be fun. From the catchy, intelligent lyrics to the sic beats with an underlying dance vibe, this is an album that will make you smile and probably tap your feet to as well. I really appreciate the inclusion of several different instruments into the music as well, making the music just as intricate and entertaining as her lyrics. The actual music is pretty diverse as well with bubblegum pop, punk, disco glam, and cabaret all making appearances, though all of it falling firmly in the adult pop category. Despite the range of different musical styles, the cd is extremely cohesive in large part to the upbeat tone that pervades every track even the intense emotional tracks like "The Outsider" and "I Am Not a Robot."
Marina has a very interesting voice quality that I suspect could get on some people's nerves especially when she purposefully sings odd lower notes sometimes. However, I love it. I think it's just the right amount of different but still accessible and not too weird. In general though, while not broadway material, it's pleasant and powerful with a tremendous amount of delicious attitude.
Marina has something new and fresh to offer, and if you like good music I would highly recommend this album!
on April 15, 2015
Simply put, "The Family Jewels" is one of the best albums of the century, and an impeccable debut album.
The quality of this album is so refreshing and original. Marina Diamandis (known as Marina and the Diamonds) successfully breaks barriers on this record. Opening with one of the best tracks on the record, "Are You Satisfied?" quickly delves into an autobiographical song asking the listener if he/she is satisfied with an average life. The lyrics also state how "she has no friends" and "feels she wants to die" along with "People like to tell you what you're gonna be, it's not my problem if you don't see what I see." This thrilling opening track poises significant questions on life and success, all in three minutes while encapsulating a wonderful indie pop/alternative beat full of 8-bit sounds, violins, guitars, and of course, her powerful and quirky vocals.
The album then proceeds into a different route, a heavy disco-dance "Shampain" (a title with a pun). "Lay dagger dead," another thrilling introductory line for the second track of the album. It is a very catchy song.
The third, and also one of the best songs on the album, "I Am Not A Robot" is another autobiographical song. What makes this song so special is that the listener can relate to the message strongly. For that, I'll leave you to listen to the song. Marina's quivers in this song give off a sense of vulnerability, sensibility, and overall honesty. From the glockenspiel to the piano to the very heartfelt and emotional viola outro, this is one of the most memorable tracks of the album.
The fourth track, "Girls" shifts the album a bit from the first three tracks, while maintaining overall autobiographical lyrics and a rebellious tone akin of "Are You Safisfied?". It is a very 80's sounding song (think of Michael Jackson's Thriller) with an accordion solo (imagine that!) and lyrics that could be contentious, but in the end, are just the way Marina felt at the time of writing the song. Very catchy and provoking song.
The fifth track, "Mowgli's Road" is one heck of a track! From high-pitched "cuckoos" to tantalizing low synths, tropical-sounding guitar tunes, quacking beats, cackling sound effects, whistling and drums, it is one of the most diverse and entertaining songs on the album. It is an alternative/new wave sensation. The lyrics compliment the haunting sound of the song. "I don't know who I want to be," and "there's a fork in the road, I'll do as I am told" echo Marina's earnesty while raising eyebrows.
The sixth track, "Obsessions" is a stripped back sentimental piano ballad that once more shifts gears a bit, in a good, refreshing way. The emotions portrayed by Marina's voice in this track bleed through perfectly. Like most tracks on the album, the lyrics to this song are autobiographical. At the end of the three and a half minutes of this song, you'll get to know Marina better, while listening to an actual story. Very beautiful track.
The seventh track, "Hollywood" is definitely one of the most pop-sounding songs of the record. But do not be fooled: Marina does it with a twist. The lyrics cynically speak of her "obsession with the mess that's America" and how she's "puking American dreams," following up with the pervasiveness that is American culture. This song is especially interesting as Marina, a Welsh born singer, speaks on behalf of American culture. Ironically, the song sounds very "American" too. Whatever that means.
Track eight is definitely a gear switcher. Titled "The Outsider," it emulates a dark 80's Kate Bush. From jaw harps to eerie piano melodies, "The Outsider" correlates with its title. "Feeling like a loser, feeling like a bum" introduce the pessimism of this song. I find it very industrial goth with grunge vocals, which I absolutely am mad for. It's hauntingly attractive.
The ninth track, "Guilty" is definitely a stand out. Starting with an interesting and banging synth, the song is produced with a lot of best. Marina begins the song by gradually rising into an exclamatory chorus based on killing a fictitious dog (simply tantalizing and amazing). Only Marina could have been able to pull of a track like this one. It's introspective, lamenting, and describes an obvious void subtly. Beautiful background use of violins too.
The tenth track, "Hermit The Frog" is a Marina classic. The pun-influenced title owns up to a sonically Middle Eastern influenced tune. From a playful piano ditty to the creeping violins and tambourine, Marina's laugh sets off some lyrics that could make anyone raise eyebrows, going as far as dropping the b-word. It compliments the lyrics that tread on the themes of lust and sin. A captivating track.
The eleventh track, "Oh No!" is undoubtedly one of the best tracks of the album, and one of the most lauded. It starts off with a fresh, zingy, dance-pop intro. Most artists would compliment and take advantage of such a pop sound by adding conventional/hollow lyrics over it, but not Marina. This song is as pop as this album gets, and Marina uses it to spread a good message. "If you are not very careful, your possessions will possess you" and responds to the statement clamoured in "Mowgli's Road" by stating "I know exactly what I want and who I want to be." This song is a catchy hook with great synths and overall, it's very danceable to. It concludes with a gorgeous melody of "da da dum's" ending it with a very airy vibe.
The twelfth track, "Seventeen" is an upbeat Marina piano ballad. The catchy piano melody at the beginning is infectious. This track showcases Marina's diverse and full vocal range perfectly, going from low lows to high highs and a perfectly balanced vibrato. The lyrics, of course, are also autobiographical. However, this time they're about someone close to her, and it could be said that this song carries some spite. It's what makes her music interesting.
The final and thirteenth track, "Numb" is one gorgeous alternative piano ballad that sounds like Christmas music with a twist. In short, it is a happy sounding sad song. While the lyrics may be depressing, they aren't sugarcoated. It is a beautiful closer to the album, and by this track, the listener will avidly know who Marina is and what she stands for. The lyrics to this song also partially relate to the lyrics of the first track, "Are You Satisfied?" by reclaiming her desire for success, even if she has to sacrifice many things.
Overall, this is a wonderfully refreshing album. If the listener is searching for honesty, integrity, meaningful lyrics, an indie/alternative new wave sound, "The Family Jewels" is the album. It is such a phenomenal debut album from the young Marina and the Diamonds, who most of the entire album herself. It is clear why this album has been voted as one of 2010's best, and why with time it only gets fresher and fresher.
on September 29, 2010
I'm not given to gushing, but this album is great. Marina arrives by way of Kate Bush's strangest (and IMHO best) album, The Dreaming. I believe Marina when she says she was unaware of most people she has been compared to, including Kate. She's not copying the sound, after all, but it's the same wellspring of weirdness. She chirps, and on "Mowgli's Road" (my favorite of the lot) she actually cukoos. She wails, and belts out some tunes ("Hollywood"). She makes perfect sense out of seeming contradiction when she pleadingly asked for understanding that "I Am Not a Robot" but on "Oh No!" confesses that she knows exactly why she walks and talks like a machine. I also love "Shampain," even with it's painful misspelling. The music tends towards banged-out chords and big drums, but all quite tuneful and melodic. If the vocals were AutoTuned, it doesn't sound like it. There's real warmth here. All in all, there's a lot to love.