Monday, 14 May 2012

Electra Heart- Marina and the Diamonds

As far as feminist heroines go, I have a long list of women I admire. Sylvia Plath, the late Amy Winehouse, feminist writer Caitlin Moran and Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous to name but a few. This week, I have a new favourite. I was first introduced to Marina Diamandis around four years ago through the old social networking site Myspace. The welsh songstress with raven hair and distinctive voice captured the attention of many with original tracks such as I am not a robot and Mowgli's Road. She went on to release her debut album The Family Jewels two years later, peaking at number five on the UK albums chart in the week of it's release.

Marina's second album entitled Electra Heart was long awaited. She hinted in an interview in 2011 that it would be about female sexuality and feminism. Her previous album, although far more implicit in it's themes, spoke mainly about Marina's rejection of celebrity culture. I am not a robot was about the pressure of women in an industry obsessed with image whilst chart-topping Hollywood allowed Marina to share her controversial views about 'puking american dreams' and how Hollywood had 'infected her brain.' Surely, Electra Heart was going to break a few barriers and contain more of Marina's outspoken opinions?

It certainly doesn't disappoint. The album itself was inspired by Marilyn Monroe and Madonna, with a hint of Americana and essence of bubblegum 90's pop. This is more apparent than ever in first track Bubblegum Bitch- an infectious pop tune that I've put on repeat and put odds on being a massive chart hit. The likes of Prima donna, Homewrecker and Radioactive are similarly catchy- the kind of songs you can't help but dance in the mirror to whilst there are also softer sounds such as Lies and The State of Dreaming. 

I recently read a review of the album from NME in which they were fairly scathing of the album. In true indie hipster style, they seemed to be implying that once girl-next-door Marina Diamandis had truly sold out, totally oblivious of the fact that they were missing the point. Electra Heart isn't just an album. She is an alter-ego for Marina, dressed up in babydoll dresses, fake eyelashes and bottle-blonde hair. Electra Heart is a way  for her to satirically express the way she feels about the importance of image in our society as well as a comment on the faceless people that become celebrities for no other reason than their appearance. As well as this, it is, as Marina claims herself, 'an ode to dysfunctional love.' Reminiscient of the Hollywood gossip culture of the 1930's and 40's, Electra Heart's character is cold and hard with a resistance to being seen as vulnerable. This is not Marina's sell-out album, this is Marina's comment on her resistance to sell out and her unwillingness to be just another pop puppet. A definite listen for anyone who can maintain an open mind.