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
'hollywood's swipes are not just at hollywood though, are they? calling an entire country 'a mess' is not a culture-specific assault like in 'girls', but is an attack (albeit in an affectionate, patronising kind of way) on a whole nation. and that stuff about the air hostess: gack!
sonically it's not a million miles from 'oh no!' (although it's more bloated, less effervescent) but the latter benefits from juxtaposed self deprecation, whereas 'hollywood's gaze turns outwards, so comes across as a little smug.
― m the g, Sunday, 14 March 2010 15:51 (3 years ago) Permalink
America is a mess, so as an American I have no problem with that, though I doubt Marina's list of what's wrong with the US would match mine too precisely.
In the course I reading interviews with her, I found one in which she said she was talking to herself in Hollywood. So I am perhaps being overly influenced by her own comments on it, but they do, after all, fit in with my own idea that she is talking to herself in a lot of the songs, even where it's not immediately obvious.
Still, I guess I have to agree it is her most stilted/pompous sounding song.
Have you noticed how often there is some stray sound at the end of a track? Easier to hear with headphones. Like the siren at the end of "Girls."
― _Rudipherous_, Monday, 15 March 2010 02:10 (3 years ago) Permalink
Listening to "Numb" at the moment and it really reminds me of big 70s production, with the strings and choir and everything (which is basically a good thing for me since the 70s is my favorite pop decade, even if this isn't necessarily my fave sound from the 70s).
I don't know why so many critics keep complaining about her lyrics. I think they are generally better than average (er, "Hollywood" aside, and maybe "Girls" as well). There are some imagistic threads that run through these songs (fast cars and stars, for instance--maybe she has been reading Dr. Seuss).
― _Rudipherous_, Monday, 15 March 2010 02:16 (3 years ago) Permalink
This album has saturated my brain so much that I think I'm not enjoying other music as much as I would otherwise. I want more that sounds like this. (Yes, I know I've been posting about other things, but for the most part it's been "eh, this sounds pretty good.")
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 28 March 2010 09:02 (3 years ago) Permalink
I feel pretty certain she has at least a couple more good albums in her. The albums suggests lots of possible direction in which she could move, musically.
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 28 March 2010 09:07 (3 years ago) Permalink
(Weird hours in a weird time zone. . .)
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 28 March 2010 09:17 (3 years ago) Permalink
Took a while to get around to getting a physical copy of the album, but loving it so far. I'd actually forgotten how much I liked the stuff I'd heard some time ago (Mowgli's Road, Obsessions) - they've really grown on me. I don't find her style annoying at all, but I do listen to a LOT of female singers with 'unique' voices, so I guess it doesn't stick out so much for me.
― Not the real Village People, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 05:05 (3 years ago) Permalink
Too lazy to dissect (and incapable of doing it in terms of music theory), but one thing I particularly like in her songs is how often they go through a lot of changes. Multiple choruses. Coming out of a chorus and arriving somewhere new melodically, rather than returning to what came before. Etc.
― _Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 April 2010 23:28 (3 years ago) Permalink
She has a song which gets into the Libra thing (though not in a way I'd expect):
Lots of stuff of hers on youtube that I haven't noticed until now. Not necessarily great but it's actually pretty good.
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 April 2010 10:23 (3 years ago) Permalink
How many of her songs are out there online already that weren't on the album?
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 April 2010 10:27 (3 years ago) Permalink
Most of the Mermaid vs. Sailor ep (which is really just crude bedroom demos and, truthfully, not so great). Everything else ended up on the album pretty much, but "Numb" and "Hollywood" were significantly bettered by the time of the album recordings.
― Johnny Fever, Saturday, 17 April 2010 10:33 (3 years ago) Permalink
Some of this stuff sounds pretty good to me. Better than the fucking Bush Tetras. (Why the Bush Tetras I'm not sure except the raw demo quality of some of this leaves it sounding a bit post-punk at times.)
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 April 2010 11:07 (3 years ago) Permalink
Saw a (song-by-song) interview with Marina in which she said that "The Outsider" was the song that had the most takes. Interesting to me because I guessed a long while back that "I'm a fucking wild card" would be the segment that had that massive number of takes that one of them had. She didn't mention that particular line, but it seems like something she would struggle with. (I no longer listen to this album all the time, but do throw it on pretty frequently. It's sounding good tonight.)
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 07:08 (3 years ago) Permalink
Oh yeah, and she got all indignant in the interview, because the interviewer tosses off something like: "So was 'The Outsider' done pretty quickly in just a few takes?'" And she responds: "Why would you say that?" (or the like). I guess I should just find it:
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 07:11 (3 years ago) Permalink
She looks nice & Greek there, too, I must say.
― _Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 07:12 (3 years ago) Permalink
Maybe from those outdoor concerts giving her some more color.
these interviews are really interesting, thanks. particularly the way she almost disowns 'girls'.
― m the g, Thursday, 29 April 2010 15:41 (3 years ago) Permalink
The thing I like most about her reception by the music press is that there's a genuine interest in the process. Nobody ever digs this deep into La Roux's motivations or techniques, they don't care about Shakira's writing trials and errors. Marina is sort of an open book that way.
― Johnny Fever, Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:53 (3 years ago) Permalink
If this is really the track-list for the U.S. release, I don't like what they've done with the sequencing. This may be a bit knee-jerk, but I think "Numb" is a bit too much of a downer as a closer, though maybe it's how she's feeling at the moment. "Guilty" was also a downer in a way, but it feels like the most personal revelation on the album, so coming at the end it felt like a sort of climax. Also, the abrupt ending seems to form a circle with the beginning (and its "hyper-meta" lyrical theme, which gives "Are You Satisfied?" a certain thematic abruptness).
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 02:18 (3 years ago) Permalink
Interesting that "Seventeen" comes back from the dead for the US version. While I doubt she'll have a big radio single, that's one of her better chances.
― Johnny Fever, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 02:31 (3 years ago) Permalink
Hmmm. I don't know. I like that song reasonably well, but I think some of the others might have a better chance. Like what? well maybe Hollywood, maybe Shampain, maybe even Mowgli's Road or I Am Not a Robot--probably I am dreaming though. Kind of hoping they will at least get a lot of college radio play (but maybe they already have).
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 02:35 (3 years ago) Permalink
This is blowing my mind again at the moment. So musical is what it comes down to.
Well I. . .
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 00:41 (2 years ago) Permalink
Video for "Oh No" just showed up. Bright and shiny!
― Johnny Fever, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 01:13 (2 years ago) Permalink
Hmmm. It's okay. The derriere of the dancer in blue is kind of subverting any pop self-critique going on here, but I don't take the pop critique angle that seriously to begin with. A bit much that Marina ends it with the same smile that "Hollywood" ends with (if I recall corretly).
― _Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 01:31 (2 years ago) Permalink
can we talk about that video? it's so painful it needs a safety word
― little rattlesnaker, Monday, 19 July 2010 06:13 (2 years ago) Permalink
reminds me too much of this video in a not good way
― little rattlesnaker, Monday, 19 July 2010 06:16 (2 years ago) Permalink