twack marks #14 - Marina and the Diamonds - The Family Jewels
The long awaited debut album from Welsh singer, Marina Diamandis is the aptly- titled The Family Jewels. Much like the slang-moniker, and what many men would refer to as their precious bits, Marina and the Diamonds' release is one that will raise a few eyebrows, and ultimately, produce a [ahem] handful of gems.
But what say we when pitting each track against a 140-character review? Dive on in to our "twack-by-twack" analysis of an album we've been itching to hear since first listening to Marina's demos back in early 2008.
Marina and the Diamonds - 01 - Are You Satisfied? [voice booms in...that's what the gal is known for...love the stringed accompaniment...B]
Marina and the Diamonds - 02 - Shampain [will be hard to top this...our first intro to marina back in demo form...it really SOARS now...A+]
Marina and the Diamonds - 03 - I Am Not A Robot [gorgeous ballad with robotic acoutrements and a softer vocal style...poignant lyrics...A]
Marina and the Diamonds - 04 - Girls [xylophones and drums and accordions make it a fun circus-pop romp over three and a half minutes...B+]
Marina and the Diamonds - 05 - Mowgli's Road [jungle sounds and beats anchor a weird & wild ride...lyrics match this safari styled song...B]
Marina and the Diamonds - 06 - Obsessions [loved a million times over...semi-ballad that floats from softs to solids...will oft repeat...A+]
Marina and the Diamonds - 07 - Hollywood [second single from album...it's cheeky and that's all...not my favorite, wont be yours either...C]
Marina and the Diamonds - 08 - The Outsider [slightly more electo-based with bassy synth-bed trhough verses...pre-chorus outshines all...B-]
Marina and the Diamonds - 09 - Hermit The Frog [bollywood cabaret intro...it's all over the place...please pick a style and stick with...C-]
Marina and the Diamonds - 10 - Oh No! [piano plucking tune...i like when marina sings over bare instrumentation...thats not this song...C-]
Marina and the Diamonds - 11 - Rootless [tried really hard to like this...but falls short of the introspective memoir she's aimed for...C-]
Marina and the Diamonds - 12 - Numb [orchestrally stunning but she hits "la roux-shriekage" at certain points throughout...reel it in...B-]
Marina and the Diamonds - 13 - Guilty [a bit messy throughout with pinpoint highlights, like at the 2:39 mark...otherwise, pretty meh...C+]
So here's the overall beastly-breakdown. Since hearing a number of rough cuts from Marina over the past 2+ years, there's not been a debut album I was more excited to hear in finished form. It's evident that she's honed both her writing chops (she's credited as writing each of the album cuts, with assistance on a quarter of the tracks) and her sense of musicality. Therein lies both her blessing and her curse.
Perhaps an additional production partner and writer's assistant would lend more tracks to differ ever so-slightly in a way that would make me appreciate them more.
Think of this album as a piece of coal. It's solid, but if rubbed hard enough, maybe, just maybe, it will turn into the lovely diamond we hoped it would be.