Timing. I'm thinking timing is one of her big strengths musically (and I mean timing in the music, not timing of career moves or whatever). Maybe I mean pacing, but I think I mean timing in a broader sense. I think it's one of the ways she extricates herself from the problematic corners she sometimes backs herself into. But I just woke up.
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 03:19 (3 years ago) Permalink
Inspired specifically by the sudden switch in "Hollywood" when she sings: "Your mind is just like mine. . ."
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 03:21 (3 years ago) Permalink
That's an interesting way to put into words what I like about her too. xp
― Johnny Fever, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 03:22 (3 years ago) Permalink
Another little detail. On "I Am Not a Robot": Could a more gentle delivery be possible for "Don't be so pathetic"? Can you imagine how most people would sing that? I don't even wince imagining myself on the receiving end. (And it's also unexpected that the overall context is telling someone to admit their vulnerability and weakness, in which case the delivery makes perfect sense.)
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 03:32 (3 years ago) Permalink
You know, if it wasn't for the fact that landfill indie is dead and British pop is all about glamorous quirky girls now, I could have sworn this record sounded almost exactly like the Kaiser Chiefs.
― Space Battle Rothko (Matt DC), Tuesday, 23 February 2010 07:39 (3 years ago) Permalink
I think maybe the little differences make a big difference. Dunno, I'm too ambivalent in my liking for this to wanna think about those lumpen gits just yet.
― National Sockpuppet Helpline (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 23 February 2010 07:45 (3 years ago) Permalink
Plus there's not much that isn't improved by having a woman singing on it rather than the bloke out of Kaiser Chiefs. Plus hell the band aren't that lumpen.
― National Sockpuppet Helpline (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 23 February 2010 07:47 (3 years ago) Permalink
Lumpen is a good word actually, despite the instrumentation it's got that awful Killers/Kaiser Chiefs mid-00s clumsy rock production sound to it. I'm not a Florence stan by any means but she's a million times better than this - she at least understands the value of build and momentum.
And she's a really charmless personality, that opening track in particular. She feels unbearable sneery in too many places - Girls (the *really* Kaiser Chiefs track here) just set my teeth on edge in almost every way.
― Space Battle Rothko (Matt DC), Tuesday, 23 February 2010 08:46 (3 years ago) Permalink
I haven't heard enough Florence to make a comparison (and what I've heard didn't not draw me in), but I think her understanding of the value of build and momentum is what I was trying to get at as one of Marina's strong points. Maybe build and momentum isn't quite it, but I think she does a good job of sustaining attention by moving things along. To me, she plays very effectively with musical tension (again, I might want to qualify that with "in her best songs," since there are some album tracks I've hardly heard much).
I also really only know the Kaiser Chiefs in name, so now I'm curious to listen to them and see if they have as much going for them in terms of tunefulness as Marina. I am skeptical.
But I can understand being put off by her being too sneery.
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:06 (3 years ago) Permalink
tbh I don't hear the Kaiser Chiefs comparison at all. huh?
― Johnny Fever, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:15 (3 years ago) Permalink
Listening now and attempting to ignore their awful videos (some of hers are awful too-and they are just bad in a typical rock video way, I don't mean to single them out). Okay, instead of just saying "WTF?" let me ask this: in what way is Marina & the Diamonds like the Kaiser Chiefs?
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 13:24 (3 years ago) Permalink
What Matt said about the middle of the road flatness of the sound I think. Gonzales' re-jig of "Hollywood" offers evidence that the songs - which I mostly think are v. good - could be arranged and performed much more interestingly than they are on the album. Think this is why Joni and Kate only work as references as long as you forget that their records sound unique. Unique sound is missing here.
Still far prefer her to any of her alleged contemporaries tho.
― National Sockpuppet Helpline (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 23 February 2010 13:29 (3 years ago) Permalink
I guess I know what you mean. I think there may be more distinctive layers of sound packed into these recordings than she's being given credit for, but I need to listen more. Maybe I'm confusing "unique/unusual sounds" for an overall unique/distinctive sound. My initial impression of the drum sounds is that they are pretty generic, and I guess the synth washes are pretty much the same (as far as sound goes) although for some reason I tend to really like them.
I do agree that she's not an original Joni or Kate, at least not on the music she's put out so far.
(I don't especially like the Gonzales version of Hollywood, but that's beside the point even if I just said it.)
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 23 February 2010 14:03 (3 years ago) Permalink
Okay, instead of just saying "WTF?" let me ask this: in what way is Marina & the Diamonds like the Kaiser Chiefs?
Yeah, as you mention in your subsequent post, it's NOT arrangement I'm talking about here, although as NV mentions there's a 00s indie flatness/loudness in the production.
What I'm getting at is the songrwriting, the lyrics, the melodies, to an extent her demonstrative exaggerated vocal stylings and definitely the blunt social caricature in the lyrics are all smack bang in the same lineage as the Kaisers. She's much closer to tarted-up Britpop than Joni or Kate or whichever names are being thrown around these days. Considering she'd have grown up listening to that music it's not surprising.
Also there's a 'na na na' bit in Girls than I'm positive comes straight out of a Kaiser Chiefs record, although I'm buggered if I'm listening back to their catalogue to find out which one.
― Space Battle Rothko (Matt DC), Tuesday, 23 February 2010 14:38 (3 years ago) Permalink
'Girls' reminds me to Kaiser Chiefs too with this 'na na na na na' line, but that won't make it a bad song. (And yes, I think there was a couple of good songs on that first Kaiser Chiefs LP, though it's not cool to admit these days.)
― zeus, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 11:19 (3 years ago) Permalink
With their "na na na na na nas" Kaiser Chiefs remind me of Chris Kenner.
― ithappens, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 11:21 (3 years ago) Permalink
I have listened to 'I am not a robot' many, many, many times since seeing her on friday.
― m the g, Wednesday, 24 February 2010 11:35 (3 years ago) Permalink
got the album yesterday... been on repeat since. when it's good (shampain, are you satisfied, mowgli, robot, rootless, girls), it's fairly jaw-dropping and completely addictive. but a fair chunk of the second half is markedly less instantly appealing. we'll see... even so, I haven't had a capital-p pop album totally dominate my waking and sleeping brain like this in... well, maybe ever? scary.
absolutely beautiful version of 'robot' from the review show last week:
― m the g, Friday, 26 February 2010 16:34 (3 years ago) Permalink
after initially being underwhelmed, oh no! and numb have really blossomed for me.
the former has a really strong PWL vibe on the chorus, which is a phrase I've never used in a positive context before.
numb is gloriously devotional in its shameless soaring, and her voice sounds fantastic here, even though her upper-register veers a little close to the shrill unbearableness of la roux.
― m the g, Monday, 1 March 2010 18:38 (3 years ago) Permalink
Does part of "Are You Satisfied?" remind anyone else of the chorus of Madonna's "American Life" (a song I think I like more than most people on ILM, even though I probably like Madonna less than mostpeopleonILM)? Or maybe it's just the general sentiment, and maybe "Hollywood" has primed me to hear musical echoes of "American Life" where there aren't really any? (For the record I think I fully understand why people would hate "American Life," but I'm a little surprised that so many do.)
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 13:59 (3 years ago) Permalink
Also, I do love that sheep jacket.
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 14:12 (3 years ago) Permalink
Anyhow, I think I'll probably have more to say. My CD finally arrived today.
not really familiar enough with american life to comment...
however, AYS?, along with hollywood, is one of the more lyrically uncomfortable/fascinating songs here, but I can't quite pin down why.
it's a theme which recurs throughout the album – the way in which her overwhelming need to be successful has marred her personal life – but there's something hyper-meta about the first line on the first track on your debut album being about getting the deal that made the album possible. it has a hollowing effect, makes it seem as if this was created in a vacuum.
combined with the somewhat patronising talk of 'average lives' (again, echoed in Hollywood), she makes it seem as if the unconstructed, pre-deal, pre-fame marina barely even existed. it's like she's really trying hard to position herself outside the celebrity culture, but in many ways her naked ambition embodies its worst aspects, to detrimental personal effect, and she's struggling to reconcile the two.
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 14:16 (3 years ago) Permalink
(I have listened to this album non-stop since getting it, btw. I think it's really wonderful.)
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 14:17 (3 years ago) Permalink
I was coming back to post this:
I would kind of say that the maximalism of the sound, the number of effects and touches of this and that, makes up for what some people have called its generic production (though I'm not at all sure I'm bothered by the generic production in this case, if that's what it is).
combined with the somewhat patronising talk of 'average lives' (again, echoed in Hollywood), she makes it seem as if the unconstructed, pre-deal, pre-fame marina barely even existed.
Right, not to mention the rest of us normaloids and nobodies.
I occasionally am reminded of the absurd--intentionally absurd, I certainly think--patronizing tone of the Kinks' Soap Opera (not that I particularly like that album or anything, but at one time I used to listen to it a lot, way way back in elementary school and early high school, so it's sort of there in my head even though it doesn't matter to me).
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 14:24 (3 years ago) Permalink
(Now listening to something from Soap Opera which has nothing really to do with Marina & the Diamonds, but it may be time for me to give it a chance again because it sounds better than it did last time I checked.)
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 14:45 (3 years ago) Permalink
yeah, the production is anything but generic, really. lots of detailed touches, subtlety and dynamics going on.
the most curious thing is that the times where the lyrics become clunky or condescending don't detract from her appeal. if anything, the opposite... without wanting to make any crass 'flaws in the diamond' remarks, it is these slightly awkward, insensitive moments that remind you she's not a slick, polished entity, but a young, arguably naive but self-reflective artist engaged in a continual process of redesigning herself as something bolder and brighter. she's interesting but not always admirable, if that's not too condescending a thing to say in and of itself.
I guess being young and carving out an identity for yourself is to some degree ALL about distancing yourself from the normaloids - then once you've done so, realising that you are one, and so is everybody else. a line decrying the lives of the 'average' might rankle the jaded old folks, but inspire the young and hopeful.
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 14:54 (3 years ago) Permalink
without wanting to make any crass 'flaws in the diamond' remarks, etc.
That did make me laugh out loud. . . I think I know what you're saying. Again, I'm a little surprised that I seem to be so willing to drink the shampain koolaid in this case, but it's just coming pretty naturally.
One thing that's been happening for me, which started happening before I got the album, is that I've become much more certain that I like her voice, which has quite a big range. (I don't mean technical octave type stuff, but range of effects I suppose. Even the variety in her English seems interesting. Sometimes it seems more heavily accented in I guess some local way. I mean, I don't really know UK accents in much detail at all, so I can't be specific.)
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 15:01 (3 years ago) Permalink
she adopts an exaggerated estuary english at times, kind of a generic take on a london/street accent, which is a highly malleable concept in and of itself.
a lot of thought has gone into keeping things mobile and protean, vocally. it provides lots of a lovely, playful detail, but it's not the focus. in his review, petridis seemed distracted and discombobulated by the fact that she doesn't have one vocal style that she sticks to. he massively overplays it though, to the extent that I'm almost disappointed that she's nowhere near as wild and allegedly unpalatable as he makes her out to be.
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 15:17 (3 years ago) Permalink
I do tend to think the second half &/or the non-single/not-previously-myspace-posted tracks are weaker than the others, but not bad, and probably good enough for albums tracks considering the strength of some of the stand-out tracks, and even these may grow on me over time. "Hermit the Frog," for instance, is just okay for a while, but when the melody switches up and it's got a more lyrical feeling, it's pretty lovely (I'm thinking around 1:07).
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 15:35 (3 years ago) Permalink
I think I know the bit you mean... it's where she goes all Sparks for a moment, yes?
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 15:47 (3 years ago) Permalink
Sorry, don't really know them.
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 15:52 (3 years ago) Permalink
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 15:53 (3 years ago) Permalink
Definite resemblances. I have had my own peculiar, unsystematic exposure to music so there are these gaps. I remember someone who used to post on this board being completely flabbergasted that I had never heard the band Love given the other things I was familiar with.
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:00 (3 years ago) Permalink
hey, didn't we all? I'm a relatively recent convert to sparks myself. no slight intended.
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:02 (3 years ago) Permalink
Considering they have been around since the 70s and have recently put out a track like that, they are probably worth checking out.
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:06 (3 years ago) Permalink
In a way I'm okay with the fact that a lot of the ILM singles jukebox crew don't like this album. Why shouldn't I like something that people who like tons of stuff I don't like don't like?
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:08 (3 years ago) Permalink
How the hell does "Girls" sound that much like a German cabaret song, incidentally? Some critic or other said something about that (maybe it was in that Petridis review).
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:14 (3 years ago) Permalink
Some of these lyrics are way more interesting than I could make out just from listening, "Obsessions" in particular.
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:20 (3 years ago) Permalink
In a way I'm okay with the fact that a lot of the ILM singles jukebox crew don't like this album. Why shouldn't I like something that people who like tons of stuff I don't like don't like?
well, quite. I'm okay with it too, mostly because I had no idea there was such a thing. are you on it?
― m the g, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:37 (3 years ago) Permalink
No, despite all the time I spend here I am not interested in trying to be a critic or reviewer or whatever. Some of the reviewers might not be ILMers:
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:41 (3 years ago) Permalink
Did I say I like the way the lyrics sometimes sound like they want to collapse into nonsense syllables (like when she sings "I was just a kid that you could not forgive because it's harder").
― _Rudipherous_, Thursday, 4 March 2010 16:46 (3 years ago) Permalink
I mean, but a lot of us like her perfectly fine...both Mowgli's Road and Hollywood were just shy of 6s on the aggregate score, which while not universal acclaim is pretty much par for the course for most singles - it's just that those who dislike her do so strongly and loudly, whereas there hasn't been a lot of trumpeted LOVE.
And part of that is probably because we didn't review 'Robot' and 'Obsessions' and 'Hollywood' are going to be grating to a certain kind of listener for specific reasons - Obsessions does the drama school voice ALL OVER THE PLACE and Hollywood is probably the most cringeworthy lyrical moment on the album. You know? Like...general consensus seems to be "she's alright, but gets in her own way a lot" and while I really dig the album, I think it's a fair evaluation of her as an artist at the moment.
― Alex in Montreal, Thursday, 4 March 2010 20:09 (3 years ago) Permalink
And also, it's not like there's any MEASURE of consensus anywhere over at Jukebox except when it comes to Taylor Swift, DJ Quik & Kurupt and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
― Alex in Montreal, Thursday, 4 March 2010 20:10 (3 years ago) Permalink
True, but I didn't quite say that everyone on Singles Jukebox had agreed she was awful. I admit it's misleading to talk about the Singles Jukebox Crew as if it speaks with one voice (when it clearly does not at all).
I just find she's one of those artists whose flaws and strengths are difficult to even tease apart. I happen to like her a lot.
― _Rudipherous_, Friday, 5 March 2010 00:26 (3 years ago) Permalink
I finally got my cd copy in the mail yesterday, but I haven't played it yet. I think I od'ed on the album when it leaked (and the songs in demo form for the last two years). I'm going to have to put her aside for a short while and come back with fresh ears. I still love her, and I want to keep doing so.
― Johnny Fever, Friday, 5 March 2010 00:29 (3 years ago) Permalink
When she talks about being visually oriented, I think it's quite apparent in her lyrics, in a good way.
― _Rudipherous_, Friday, 5 March 2010 00:39 (3 years ago) Permalink
a young, arguably naive but self-reflective artist engaged in a continual process of redesigning herself as something bolder and brighter
Just an aside: listening to this album is making me think I have reached some sort of milestone in aging (depressing phrase on the surface) where I appreciate the strength that youth can bring to music, without resenting that youthfulness.
― _Rudipherous_, Friday, 5 March 2010 01:03 (3 years ago) Permalink
"Running with my roots pulled up" is a pretty good image, and somehow conjures up more of that folkloric atmosphere that runs through the album. (Not musically folkloric, but folk tale folkloric. Fairy tales, folk tales, children's stories, etc. I think maybe that's a reflection of her intensely visual imagination.)
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 March 2010 01:57 (3 years ago) Permalink
Her most Fiona moment: starts at 1:42 on "Numb." (Note: I'm not that familiar at all with Fiona Apple, but this really jumps out for some reason.)
m the g, what does "PWL vibe" mean (in reference to "Oh No!"), because that's one of the album tracks that's starting to stand out for me. I like the constantly churning changes in the vocals, the effects. Listening to it just now I was thinking I'd almost like to see her go even further in varying vocal effects and studio effects.
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 March 2010 02:04 (3 years ago) Permalink