by Danielle Holian
Welsh-born songstress Marina Diamandis, a.k.a Marina and the Diamonds, made a bang when she released her debut album The Family Jewels in 2010. She mixes sparkling pop with an incredible darkness that makes her stand out from the crowd. Her distinct personality shows throughout the entire album. There is no one quite like her – her sound is weird and breathtaking.
The Family Jewels has moments like Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black where she gives off an aggressive vibe creatively. Her powerful vocal ability overshadows the upbeat music. The upside to this is that there is no autotune present. Marina has a unique interpretation on a genre gaining in popularity. The lyrics are catchy and intelligent. The music has a fun dance vibe to it. But despite the range of musical styles, there are intense emotional tracks like ‘The Outsider’ and ‘Numb’.
On the thrilling opening track ‘Are You Satisfied’ she sings, “It’s not my problem / is my problem / that I never am happy / my problem is my problem on how fast I will succeed.” Her talent and ambition are noteworthy.
There is an emotional journey taken with this record. She declares on ‘I Am Not A Robot’ she is ‘vulnerable’, yet later on she insists on ‘Oh No!”, “I know exactly what I want and who I want to be.” Each emotion portrayed by Marina bleeds perfectly into the listener’s ear.
Lead single “Hollywood” is one of the most pop-sounding songs on the album. But Marina still puts her own twist on the tune. Her lyrics are telling as she confesses an “obsession with the mess that’s America.” Throughout the song, she addresses her views on the emptiness of celebrity life and culture.
The diverse style changes across the record are spellbinding. Her themes deal mostly with dark self-questions, sometimes making it hard to listen to. On ‘Guilty’ she sings, “I’m a troubled one and I won’t be forgiven/ Guilty on the run and I know what I have done.” The song starts off with a banging synth, changing tempo from the other tracks. The instruments fade in and out perfectly complimenting her voice.
Overall, The Family Jewels is a perfect example of a debut. No track outstays its welcome. Marina and the Diamonds is original and refreshing with its excellent songs and great autobiographical lyrics. It has a greater depth and is very different compared to some who associate themselves with the ‘pop’ genre.