thu 24/06/2021

Album: Marina - Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Marina - Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land

Album: Marina - Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land

Fifth album is the best so far from a re-energised, revitalised, newly mouthy pop star

Never mind the sucky cover art, listen to the music

The latest album from Marina Diamandis, her fifth, is a startling explosion of vim and attitude. It mingles speeding, wordy, indie-tinted dance-pop bangers, tilting at all manner of contemporary ills, with sudden moments of broken-hearted piano-led contemplation.

When she last appeared two years ago, it was with the lengthy Love + Fear album, Paloma Faith-ish songs whose tastefulness masked real character. Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land, on the other hand, is packed with plenty of juice and surprises.

It opens with the title track, an electro-glam-pop stomper midway between Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” and "Strict Machine"-era Goldfrapp, but lyrically riven with desperation at the state of things, ecological catastrophe within sniffing distance. The same chutzpah reigns throughout, notably on “Man’s World”, co-written, like much of the rest of the album, by regular Anne-Marie collaborator Jennifer Decilveo. The fabulously preposterous “New America”, is another case in point, a Gaga-tastic judgement call (“Everything that made you great only made you bad”!), which even includes an indictment of the genocide of Native Americans!

And how about the even more pointed and fantastically relentless “Purge the Poison”! This opens, “All my friends are witches and we live in Hollywood/ Mystical bitches making our own sisterhood”, and contains a slapdown for Harvey Weinstein while bigging up Britney, Diamandis flipping between theatrical soprano and belligerent sass-mouth. It’s over-the-top, gutsy, trite and, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the year’s best pop songs.

In February Diamandis’s five years of domesticity with boyfriend Jack Patterson of Clean Bandit came to an end, the subject of the album’s later lovelorn side. Of the resulting slowies, piano-led ballad “Flowers” is lovely and the Yazoo-ish “Pandora’s Box’ sweet too, but these are balanced by the guitar-addled “I Love You But I Love Me More”, which features a nursery rhyme contagious chorus that won’t quit.

Diamandis’s decade-long career began with hit singles as Marina and the Diamonds but, on albums such as the scattershot Froot, her sensibilities were eventually too musically unpredictable (as well as thoughtful) for straightforward pop stardom. She recently moved to Los Angeles but, happily, her sound has not become California smooth. On the contrary, she has clearly rediscovered her muse, resulting in this outrageously enjoyable album.

Below: watch the video for "Purge the Poison" by Marina

It is lyrically riven with desperation at the state of things, ecological catastrophe within sniffing distance

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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