thu 20/06/2024

CD: Marnie - Crystal World | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Marnie - Crystal World

CD: Marnie - Crystal World

Ladytron's leading lady shows her full range on a dreamy and varied debut

Don't call it a Ladytron album: Marnie's 'Crystal World'

There have been those who have uncharitably suggested that Crystal World is in fact a sixth Ladytron album rather than the solo debut of the band’s frontwoman, Helen Marnie. It’s an easy, if lazy, conclusion to jump to when said album flirts with many of the same electro-dreampop calling cards and features a bandmate on production credits, but take a trip into Marnie’s world and there is plenty to set it apart.

Curiously it’s on the vocals that the differences become most obvious. This is still the same Marnie of the sometimes sultry, sometimes glacial persona she adopts on the best known of Ladytron’s work but these songs - as well as containing some of her prettiest performances - demonstrate a fragility born of emotional depth rather than brittleness. “We are the Sea”, for example, begins with a typically deadpan performance over a pulsing, monotonous beat, but by its first chorus the song has blossomed into something warm and blissful. Later, “Laura” aches with a profound sense of loss, barely obscured by elegiac lyrics and twinkling synths.

Crystal World lets Marnie try on a few characters: the femme fatale of shimmering electropop album opener “The Hunter”; the temptress of “Sugarland”; the otherworldly priestess of “The Wind Breezes On”. “Violet Affair” is a proper guilty pleasure pop song with its high school musical melody and cutesy lyrics while the seven-minute epic “Submariner” - which builds a sweet, simple riff into a mystical wall of sound - and haunting closing track “Gold” could come from another album entirely.

It’s a lot of ground to cover in ten tracks and the first couple of listens could leave you a little breathless, but as the album’s melodic hooks start to work their way the decade-plus of experience that Marnie and producer/bandmate Daniel Hunt have at making electronica sound soulful becomes apparent. Crystal World is an album that, while not always cohesive, showcases a considerable songwriting talent.

Watch the video for "The Hunter" overleaf

The first couple of listens could leave you a little breathless


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters