Belfast Telegraph

Album: Diamonds, The Family Jewels - reader review

By Scott Gallagher

Debut Album ‘The Family Jewels’ opens with the brilliantly inviting track ‘Are you satisfied?’ In the song, Marina, armed with attitude, holds up a mighty finger to the conventions of a normal lifestyle.

The seductively fantastic pop tune, that is flaunted by the flawless vocals of Marina Diamandis, talks about the musician as ‘a dreamer’ who is ‘driven by a greed to succeed’. The romantic singer-songwriter is very honest in her almost diary-like writings - ‘Are you satisfied with an average life?’ Obviously, Diamandis is not and goes on, stating how exactly her ambition is far from a 9-5 job.

‘Shampain,’ a tune that sounds like it’s been plucked from the 80’s, glitters radiantly, but is more abrasive than it’s predecessor. The track, a collection of nonsense, is a very modern take on letting one’s self go, but at the same time documenting those feelings right here in the lyrics – ‘A bottle to myself, savour the taste of fabricated wealth’.

Tracks such as ‘I am not a robot’ and ‘Obsessions’ illustrate the heartache of relationships. ‘I am not a robot’ – Robotic in sense, develops the story of a complex relationship. On the surface, the track plays like a pop tune should, but scratch the exterior and we see the anguish Marina pens – ‘You are not a robot, you’re loveable, so loveable, but you’re just troubled’.

The gorgeous ‘Obsessions’ is probably the most controversial track on the record. On first listen, the beautifully crafted song illuminates Marina’s perfect vocal, but beneath the surface, amongst the colloquial slang – ‘One minute, I’m a little sweetheart and the next minute you are an absolute creep’ the track sheds light on the struggle of an adulterous love affair.

Marina’s lyrics are far from profound, but the fun, realistic writings of the Welsh wonder make her record stand out as one characteristically written.

Showing off the musician’s keen interest in America culture, the highly polished flagship song ‘Hollywood’ stands out from the rest. From the very witty lyrics - ‘Oh my god, you look just like Shakira, no, no, you’re Catherine Zeta, Actually, my name’s Marina’ to the very catchy chorus, it becomes clear to see how this song fits itself nicely into the category of genius song writing.

‘Oh! No!’ also christens itself as all sorts of brilliant. Lyrically, we see how the twenty-something Marina is very much determined to succeed in life and do anything to further her career – ‘I know exactly what I want, and who I want to be’. The singer, with her head very much screwed on, is very honest, but brutal in her writings – ‘Don’t do love, don’t do friends, I’m only after success’.

The sincere but charming lyrics establish Diamandis as a very good songwriter indeed, but overall the song flourishes fantastically, leaving the listener humming and bouncing to the almost pretentious lines ‘Oh! No! Oh! No!’

This egotistical theme runs throughout the record almost consciously. In the very emotive ‘Numb’, a type of ballad, Diamandis once more, talks about her plight to do well, stating very frankly that all she cares about ‘is being number one’.

Filler track ‘Girls’ hits out at the idealized image young women feel they have to portray in this 21st century. The tune, weaker compared to some of its camaraderie’s, illustrates the musician's frustration with this need to look perfect. The amusing lyrics hitting out at this need to look pretty – ‘Girls, they never hear from me, because I fall asleep when they speak, of all the calories they eat’. The track seems very tongue-in-cheek; the beautiful Diamandis looking like she’s just been plucked from the pages of Vogue.

Overall, the album is very aesthetically pleasing to the ear. It’s a collection of brilliantly written pop tunes that illustrates the trials and tribulations of a young girl wanting to make something of her life. The record is an easy listen, but at the same time, very fun. Diamandis is definitely the diamond here.

Marina and the Diamonds play the Mandella Hall, Belfast on the 26th May

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