This article contains opinion.
English pop artist Marina and the Diamonds returns with her fourth studio album.
She goes solely by the name MARINA now and comes back with an ambitious double album “Love + Fear.” Despite being a full project, she wants them to be taken as both separate and whole. She surprise released the first half, “LOVE," in preparation for the full project.
Her reinvention can be decisive for her fans, myself included.
The single and music video “Orange Trees” came out the gate to debut her aggressively generic new take on pop music. With previous projects such as “Electra Heart,” MARINA invented a pop-star persona to create an interesting satire and commentary on the genre’s cliches and messages.
The character of “Electra Heart” had a style and personality and garnered her a lot of attention. This very meta take on the genre that MARINA is somewhat known for caused myself and the friends I watched “Orange Trees” with to think its generic nature was a deep cut commentary. However, it seems as if MARINA’s new sound is more upbeat and cliched.
The music video for “Orange Trees” seems like a travel agency advertisement and features lyrics about having fun on the beach. While “Orange Trees” is easily the most generic track on the project, “LOVE” is burdened by this new sound and new blandness.
It lacks the punch and the teeth of her previous projects and is generally somewhat boring. Even the more fun tracks like “Baby,” which features Luis Fonsi and Clean Bandit, don’t stand up lyrically to her previous work. And even “Baby” specifically is weighed down with its featured artists, though it is an interesting reach to new audiences and demographics.
An upside to the project is the positive messages MARINA tries to spread with “LOVE.” Especially with a track like “Enjoy Your Life,” which kind of addresses the more nihilistic themes of the project with positivity.
The philosophy of MARINA’s existentialism is really interesting thematically on songs like “Handmade Heaven” and especially on “To Be Human,” which is easily my favorite track on the album. Even this intriguing and creative theme for a pop album to tackle is distracted by a boring sound and a split focus of what MARINA is going for with “LOVE.”
The moral complexity of “To Be Human” makes it stand out like a diamond in the rough, and placing second to last behind the thematic conclusion of “End of the Earth” was good placement to end on a decently strong note.
I am curious and interested as both a music fan and a MARINA fan to see where “Love + Fear” goes and how it recontextualizes “LOVE,” though I am reluctantly pessimistic.