After the success of her debut album ‘The Family Jewels’, Marina Diamandis literally became another person for its successor. ‘Electra Heart’ was a concept album around a woman who personified various cultural female archetypes – from beauty queen to capricious adultress. On a deeper level, her imagined persona was a way for Diamandis to deal with the dissolve of a relationship by becoming someone else.
She dramatically changed her physical appearance; switching her shock of black hair to being a bubbly blonde with ‘60s kitsch attire. Her music in turn took an equally drastic transformation. With the intent of making a mainstream-friendly electronic pop album she teamed up and co-wrote a large chunk of the album with high-profile producers from Dr. Luke to Diplo.
‘Electra Heart’ ramped up her satire and cultural pinches placed up against the EDM that reigned in the charts. However, while Marina aimed for bigger stardom, she found its reality suffocating. In her recent interview with The Guardian, she observed how “People assume you don’t know anything and you don’t make your own music. I saw that change as soon as I dyed my hair blonde and created music that had a different production style. It was fascinating but it made me think: ‘I’m not going to do this again’.”
After reportedly killing Electra Heart with a lethal concoction of sleeping pills in the same interview, Diamondis took a year off to live what she described as a “normal life” to regain her balance.
Fittingly she opens her new album, ‘FROOT’ with a song after the bubble of the years previous burst. Happy is a stark description of her wrestle with loneliness, as she rediscovers solace in herself and joy in making music. It holds that magnetic attraction of her succinct choosing of words for human emotion that has previously featured in songs such as Obsessions from her debut.
Her brutal honesty carries through ‘FROOT’ as she documents her issues with self-esteem and the demise of a loveless relationship. It’s refreshingly intimate to hear a singer identify their own self-serving desires and a universal need for other people to make ourselves feel better.
Blue, the dancefloor bop of the album, is euphoric in its desperation of returning to an ex-partner for self-validation, while Ruin admits “I played with your heart/ and I could treat you better but I’m not that smart”. Her clever turns of phrases often cut through the music as she explores both the desire to be a better person and the potential to behave badly.
Even the nonsensical spelling of the album’s title brims with the brash personality, with her tongue-firmly-in-cheek and unafraid of not being taken seriously. ‘FROOT’ returns to the elastic songwriting style of ‘The Family Jewels’ as she concocts an album of disco, alternative rock and pop. As a whole, the record wanes between the full-bodied and unripe.
Gold, Weeds and Solitaire are made of gentle melodies but fail to go further than sounding pleasant. On the other hand, a song like Savages cuts deep with its reflection of human behavior or the squaring up to a sly seductress on Better Than That.
Given the miasma Marina found herself in following ‘Electra Heart’, this album’s focus is to reclaim her voice that she initially set our with. There’s no doubt made it with conviction too. Despite the fact that ‘FROOT’ is brimming with the singer’s personality, some of the music and productions begs to be pushed further sonically, which may have transformed the songs from the pleasant into the profound.