Tag Archives: Amy Winehouse

Marina and the Diamonds ‘Family Jewels’ – Review

26 Feb

Is anyone else getting sick to death of British female singers? To begin with it was a nice change of pace from guitar driven boy bands, and the likes of Lilly Allen and Amy Winehouse were genuinely unique and interesting. But they have just inspired a seemingly never-ending list of clones that seem only interested in being more bizarre than the last and belting out the tunes with increasingly bigger voices.

There was Duffy and Kate Nash to begin with (the clean cut versions of Amy and Lilly respectively) and they in turn gave record labels encouragement to seek out the likes of La Roux, Florence and Little Boots. But recently we have had the garbage that is Adele, Pixie Lott, Paloma Faith and the not completely bad but certainly boring Ellie Goulding and Daisy Dares You. It is an annoying trend and one that I thought would end ages ago but shows no sign of slowing.

Marina and the Diamonds are an odd one to categorize; they fall somewhere between Florence and the Machine and Paloma Faith but more interestingly, although expectedly, they also draws inspiration from Kate Bush. Marina’s voice is certainly strong and even quite unusual, if you imagine a cross between Regina Specktor and Imogen Heap you are probably pretty close. She has a pretty stunning range and therefore manages to sound sincere on ‘Obssesions’, madly passionate yet appropriately robotic on ‘I Am Not A Robot’ and absolutely crazy on ‘Hollywood’.

Does she do enough to differentiate herself from the rest of the pack? Well the album certainly isn’t without it’s faults but this is a good debut that establishes Marina as one to watch. Whereas La Roux and Florence made great singles and very patchy albums, ‘Family Jewels’ sounds well crafted and thought out. It’s certainly too long and there are far too many ideas but that is quite admirable in a new artist. In terms of hits there is nothing here to match ‘Bullet proof’ or ‘Rabbit Heart’ but then neither Florence or La Roux had an album track to match ‘Are You Satisfied’.  lyricaly and musically this is an ambitious and rewarding listen.

The first side of the record is very strong but things fall down a bit in the second half. Everything past track 7 ranges from average to forgettable to terrible. In fairness the terrible moments are rare but lyrical embarrassments do pop up every now and then (‘Hermit the Frog’) and the weird accents in ‘Oh No’ are a bit cringey. Perhaps these songs aren’t so bad, maybe the first seven tracks simply wore me out to an extent that I didn’t want to hear any more. Only lots of repeated listens would answer that question but it has to be said that I don’t really fancy listening much more to this. Not that it’s bad, it’s just….too much.

‘I’m a F**King Wild Card!’ Marina declares halfway through the album. She actually is kind of. It’s still a bit of a clichéd, try hard album but it’s nowhere near as predictable as most of the chart music at the moment. Marina crafts dreamscapes that are not at all original to pop music but her great voice and off the wall production make this an enjoyable album. Repeated listens may be a bit too much to take (at 13 tracks and 50 minutes of craziness even one listen is quite overwhelming) but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to hear ‘Hollywood’ or ‘Obssessions’ on the radio.

7/10