Trying not to be a music snob: Part #1 – Marina & the Diamonds

marina-the-diamondsHere at FFS we get sent tons and tons of music every week. We try to listen to it all and we pick up on the things that grab us. Sometimes something we’ve listened to on MySpace and decided we’re not that keen on takes off and we’re left wondering whether we’ve missed something.

Such is the case with Marina & the Diamonds. I was sent a link to her MySpace back in 2008. I can remember having a listen, deciding it was throwaway diva powerpop and moving on. Since then there has been a lot of press and exposure but nothing that’s made me think again.

Then a couple of weeks ago Marina Diamandis, the woman behind the sparkly moniker, turned up on BBC 2’s This Week singing ‘I Am Not A Robot’ accompanied only by a piano. Her voice, stripped bare, is quite remarkable.

So, here I find myself on Spotify listening to her album The Family Jewels. On the opening track ‘Are You Satisfied’ her vocals sound a bit Amanda Palmer-lite. And it becomes apparent quite quickly that a lot of her songs start interestingly but are all given a generic pop chorus fit for the masses. I don’t know if the public need a melody and beat rammed down their throat to understand them, but that seems to be what they’re getting.

‘I Am Not A Robot’ is the best track by miles, the way Marina uses her voice as an instrument is showcased nicely and in this case the synth and drum machine suit the theme of the song.

I won’t listen to this album again without the overproduction making me want to pour acid in my ears, but minus that and some pretty cheesy lyrics, Ms Diamandis could turn out to be something pretty special. Looking forward to album number two.


Twitter response to Marina

I asked FFS’s Twitter followers what they thought of Marina and the Diamonds. Here’s what they said:

@mattcollinsongs: Overrated nasal rubbish! They’ll be gone in 18-24 months.

@johnjones81: Marina is like a poor man’s PJ Harvey

@The_GalleryCafe: Definitely style over substance

@werewiththeband: think its when Radio 1 gets hold of them that I get bored

@darlinglaura_: I just love Marina.

@deferredsucess: Marina = likeable pop fodder

@ARoseBtT: honestly bit meh but probably need to give a proper chance

@arteeeee: I don’t get the fuss and both are way overproduced. I saw Marina on the TV once singing acoustic and that was way better.

@solitaryblossom: (Marina+Ellie) < Florence

@drunkcountry: Overblown & drenched in production booth interference; nowhere near as good as the stadium gig in her head, her bedroom demos had far more character.

@TisforTaekwondo: Marina & the Diamonds I love!

7 comments for “Trying not to be a music snob: Part #1 – Marina & the Diamonds

  1. Rudy
    9 March 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Your ears suck. The choruses here are consistently exceptional and the richly layered production is one of the strengths of this album.

  2. 9 March 2010 at 5:16 pm

    i really like marina too. i think the album is way too over produced, and she is much better stripped down, but overall she has an amazing voice and can write a good song. i’m glad your writing about her, its good to be open minded :)

  3. 10 March 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Completely agree on this one – Marina’s voice really is something very special, but it’s stifled by over-production nonsense. There’s a decent album hidden in there, somewhere beneath the spangles, but it’s impossible to dig out. Looking forward to your Goulding feature, Lynn – please be nice! x

  4. Neil Darwin
    11 March 2010 at 9:24 pm

    In a different time Marina would be truly lauded. But after the La Roux, Nash and more recently Goulding types, she blends in. Without doubt, she is a very polished performer with a great range.

    Sadly I think she will grow into a Radio 1 – MTV 1 performer before us indie types realise how good should is.

  5. maudie
    15 March 2010 at 12:45 pm

    oh thank god, someone else with sense. amazing voice, but play-by-numbers crap. pop music doesn’t need to be dumbed down quite this much. i’m gonna wait and see for album number 2, hopefully by then her lyrics will have grown into her voice.

  6. Becky Varley-Winter
    23 August 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Oh, I love Marina, ever since seeing her live at Camp Bestival last year! Although I think it’s to do with her charisma & stage presence as much as her music. She’s playful and I like her irreverence and silly humour. I love the hook-y chorus and cuckooing on ‘Mowgli’s Road’, ‘I Am Not A Robot’ is lovely and I find ‘Shampain’ really infectious, as well as ‘American Queen’. I also find ‘Numb’ and ‘Seventeen’ quite moving. You may just be more of a pure folk fan than whores like me; Marina’s good but she’s unashamedly pop, loves Shakira and Britney etc. among her other influences. I agree maybe the production’s a wee bit over the top on her album and she’s got room to grow, but when you see someone perform you can tell if they’ve got talent, and she definitely has.

  7. Becky Varley-Winter
    23 August 2010 at 9:29 pm

    By ‘American Queen’ I mean ‘Hollywood’, OBVIOUSLY.

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