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
PWL = Pete Waterman Limited/Stock, Aitken and Waterman. hugely successful and much reviled 80s pop factory responsible for the likes of kylie minogue, big fun, sonja, rick astley, mel & kim, etc.
oh no! has a similar cheap and sonically enthusiastic vibe, even if the lyrics are much more negative.
― m the g, Saturday, 6 March 2010 08:57 (3 years ago) Permalink
The more I listen to the second half of the album, the more I wonder just how intense a personal back story there is to all of this gloom.
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 March 2010 13:06 (3 years ago) Permalink
The songs toward the end (but also some of the themes appearing in earlier tracks) seem more like what you would write after an established career, reflecting back on the uglier aspects of what brought you to that accomplishment. It's like there is already this whole imagined career arc right on her debut. (Maybe this is all more common than I would think since I spend so little of my time paying attention to English language pop singers in any detail.)
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 March 2010 13:12 (3 years ago) Permalink
Of course the first song sets that whole dynamic up, since she starts off talking about the record deal itself.
I know someone already made a point of how that runs through the whole album. It just hadn't hit me before listening to the album a bunch of times (and I never downloaded it before getting the CD, although I did stream the whole thing a few times I guess).
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 March 2010 13:15 (3 years ago) Permalink
You did, m:
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.
I think this is what I was just trying to get at. I like that "hyper-meta" and the sense of vacuum. Yeah, it's like the anticipated fame, the success, the disillusionment are all springing out fully formed. I read somewhere or other (not necessarily anywhere authoritative) that the label didn't want her to put that song first--for understandable reasons (way to win people over: beginning your debut griping about the stresses of success), but good for her to have gotten her way. It makes perfect sense starting the album with that song.
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 March 2010 13:24 (3 years ago) Permalink
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 March 2010 14:08 (3 years ago) Permalink
I really hope she blows up in popularity right in the faces of all the popist critics who dismiss her.
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 7 March 2010 08:13 (3 years ago) Permalink
her album went to no.2 in the first week, which is a good start. much as I could care less about the popist critics, it'll be interesting to see how she does, particularly in comparison to her peers - florence, la roux, bat for lashes. I'd argue marina has stronger, more idiosyncratic songs, a better voice and a little more edge than those three, but may be a little too prickly and self-involved to achieve their mass appeal. it's also potentially problematic that her biggest song - hollywood - is both the weakest and most problematic on the album.
― m the g, Sunday, 7 March 2010 10:41 (3 years ago) Permalink
One thing that I think is being missed is her sense of humor about herself. I can't hear "And it's my problem if I have no friends and feel I want to die" (especially the way its sung) as other than at least partly funny. There's something about the lines in "Hollywood" (lines curiously missing from the liner notes): "I itch my skin/I jump up and say. . ." that I hear as somehow clued in to the absurdity of her extreme theatricality. I don't know, maybe I'm just projecting all sorts of stuff that isn't there, but in that case this album makes a fabulous ink blot. (Speaking of skin, in "Obsessions" she sings: "skin is on fire" even though the printed lyrics change this to "cheeks are on fire." Something tells me "skin is on fire" was just a little too confessional.)
There's also a lot of detail that I don't think is being given its do. I find something oddly compelling, for instance, about the way she starts to mumble-sing the "fast car" part in "Girls" before it begins in earnest. Also, where does that even come from and why does it work as well as it does? It seems a bit mysterious.
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 00:47 (3 years ago) Permalink
Question: what percentage of the time when she is addressing someone else or talking about someone else is she actually not addressing herself or talking about herself?
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 01:27 (3 years ago) Permalink
And I wonder if that will flip at some point. I wonder if rather than populating her songs with projections of herself she will at some point find her identity spread across others? She is a Libra after all, so there's a good chance this thing is going to want to balance itself out, plus there's the general other-directedness of Libra (though that's complicated in this case by her Leo moon).
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 02:00 (3 years ago) Permalink
I was with you until the astrology...!
anyway... I think it's fair to say it's ALL about her. and you're spot on about the little details: like the tiny glock chime that accompanies the word 'pins' in 'robot'. the halted, cut-up syllables at the end of 'satisfied'. the digital 'to be l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ved' in mowgli, the rhythm of which is foreshadowed in the previous bar. the way the chords of the moroder riff shift towards the end of 'shampain', emphasising her decline into drunken despondency... lots to chew on.
― m the g, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 09:12 (3 years ago) Permalink
anyway... I think it's fair to say it's ALL about her
Which is double-edged, but on the more positive side, it means that when she is being didactic it's really as if she were writing exhortations to herself in a journal; and when she is being extremely critical, she's often at least partly criticizing herself. (I can't imagine anyone writing what she does in "Girls" whatever the lines are--I'm at work now so no music--about making money out of you insecurities, without realizing she is describing her own album.)
I keep telling myself I'm going to go through and catalog all my favorite small details on the album, but then I just end up bouncing along to it over and over again.
(Pathetically quick reply because works is slow tonight/this morning/whatever.)
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 09:29 (3 years ago) Permalink
not only that, but 'girls' rails against an obsession with stereotypically feminine fripperies and dieting, which must surely dwell on her mind every time she sings it, given that a) she's clearly worked hard to lose weight in the past few months, and b) is now doing a spot of modelling:
― m the g, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 10:29 (3 years ago) Permalink
I sort of don't want to be reminded of what a painfully great figure she has (not complaining to you, just commenting in general).
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:10 (3 years ago) Permalink
like the tiny glock chime that accompanies the word 'pins' in 'robot'.
Yeah, I'm waiting for the Pantha du Prince remix.
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:34 (3 years ago) Permalink
This is my favourite musical moment of the year! I'm not wild about Mowgli's (I can't get over 'spoons' - it sounds really student) and Hollywood is ugh, but I'm Not A Robot is just really wonderful and exciting.
― Gravel Puzzleworth, Wednesday, 10 March 2010 15:55 (3 years ago) Permalink
I hate to say it but sometimes she reminds me of Jim Morrison. (Hate to say it because I don't like Jim Morrison.) Or even Genesis P-Orridge, possibly doing Jim Morrison, especially in that fast car bit at the end of "Girls"--that's exactly what it makes me think of: Genesis P-Orridge doing Jim Morrison.
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 14 March 2010 05:45 (3 years ago) Permalink
I have a whole backlog of wacky things to say about this album.
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 14 March 2010 05:46 (3 years ago) Permalink
I'm starting to think that the latter third of this album has some of its strongest work. numb, rootless, oh no! and guilty have graduated from underwhelming to stunning.
(all of which just makes hollywood seem more and more inexplicable)
― m the g, Sunday, 14 March 2010 12:27 (3 years ago) Permalink
Agreed, at this point I think at least that those last four songs are as strong as the rest (but I like Hollywood too).
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 14 March 2010 12:29 (3 years ago) Permalink
I kind of like hollywood, but somewhat against my instincts/better judgement. it works best as a single, but seems highly anomalous in the context of the album.
― m the g, Sunday, 14 March 2010 12:32 (3 years ago) Permalink
I don't see where it's so removed thematically from her overall concerns about success/glamor, the ambivalence that runs throughout much of the album. And I don't hear it is sonically so different from "Oh No!" or "Girls," so I don't know. Speaking of "Girls," some of the same sort of complaints that could be made about Hollywood's lyrics could be made about it, I think. If anything "I Am Not a Robot" seems out of place somehow, even though it's very likely her strongest song. I don't know if it should have been placed somewhere differently in the album sequence, or if it just doesn't completely fit.
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 14 March 2010 12:52 (3 years ago) Permalink
I do think I was exaggerating before when I suggested that her songs on this album are really solely populated with projections of herself. I don't hear "Guilty" as Marina addressing herself, and I think it's a stretch to interpret "Obessions" that way too.
(Incidentally, there are a couple seconds of electronic squiggles in "Shampain" that remind me of something in a Shiina Ringo song, but I haven't tracked that one down yet, probably because it's been a while since I've listened to Shouso Strip.)
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 14 March 2010 13:08 (3 years ago) Permalink