wears the trousers magazine


marina & the diamonds: the crown jewels EP (2009)
July 2, 2009, 10:23 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,

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Marina & The Diamonds
The Crown Jewels EP ••••
679 / Atlantic

Does no one want to be perceived as a female solo artist anymore? Oh the shame. Natasha Khan has her Bat For Lashes, Victoria Hesketh is Little Boots, Laura Groves has morphed into Blue Roses, and now we have Marina & The Diamonds, aka Miss Marina Diamond from Hampstead and…um…well, it’s just her, actually. The Diamonds are her fans according to her rather entertaining blog, which rants, raves and navel gazes, mainly about how much she hates pop celebrities who rant, rave and navel gaze in their blogs. Genius. The Crown Jewels EP is the second release from the Britney-worshipping bright new thing since signing to 679/Atlantic Records, and showcases her rather brilliant new single ‘I Am Not A Robot’. Okay, so it’s yet another faux-’80s electro-pop number produced to within an inch of its life, but it’s so much better than the competition that Diamond can be forgiven. It even has a promo video (directed by photographer to the stars, Rankin, and Chis Cottam) featuring more makeup and glitter than a flagship Boots store; what more could we ask for?

‘I Am Not A Robot’ starts rather predictably in the increasingly ubiquitous “I want to be Kate Bush when I grow up” vein before building into a bridge so dramatic it’s as though Bonnie Tyler is standing in the wings with a gigantic dry ice machine running at full pelt. Then there’s the chorus, which no doubt will be in all our heads for the rest of the summer. “Guess what? I am not a robot,” Diamond cries emphatically, telling us that it’s okay to be vulnerable and embrace the “little baby” behind our tough, cigarette-toting façades. The whole thing is a bit ridiculous, but in a fantastic, golden-era ‘Top Of The Pops’ way that gets you in the mood for the ’80s roller disco while you’re drying your hair.

The slightly unnecessary Starsmith remix of ‘I Am Not A Robot’ aside, the other tracks on the EP are solid, albeit less exciting than the opener. Where ‘I Am Not A Robot’ sounds like all the best bits of the ’80s put into a blender, a re-jigged version of old track ‘Seventeen’ sounds like the leftovers. The delivery is over-emotive and the lyrics precocious, with Diamond protesting (“Could never tell you what happened the day I turned 17”) and bitching (“You don’t know fuck about my family”) like the best of them. ‘Simplify’ is a much more successful stripped-back tune about the difficulties of finding the simple life in such complicated modern times. Lines like “They say, well, get out of the city / we say there’s no such thing as a house in the country” are a million miles away from the sulky dramatics of ‘Seventeen’. It’s short, sweet and sounds a bit like a lost Tori Amos classic.

While the contents of the EP don’t quite live up to the crown jewels we were promised, the gems it harbours are glorious. With a single as strong as ‘I Am Not A Robot’ and the backing of a major label, Marina has no need to hide behind her Diamonds.

Richard Steele
UK release date: 22/06/09; www.myspace.com/marinaandthediamonds

 

‘I Am Not A Robot’

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[…] – Through The Devil Softly [Charlotte Richardson Andrews 31/8] 07 Marina & The Diamonds – The Crown Jewels EP [Richard Steele 2/7] 08 Whitney Houston – I Look To You [Chris Catchpole 30/8] 09 Dolores […]

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