Marina – Love + Fear (Album Review)

Marina – Love + Fear (Album Review)

The artist now named mononymously as Marina is actually Marina Lambrini Diamandis in real life. Born on October 10, 1985, in Brynmawr, Wales; and is currently residing in London, England; she catapulted to mainstream popularity as Marina + the Diamonds. Under this moniker, she released three studio albums—2010’s The Family Jewels, 2012’s Electra Heart, and 2015’s Froot—from which originated successful singles such as “I Am Not a Robot,” “Primadonna,” and “I’m a Ruin.”

After a very short hiatus in 2016, Diamandis emerged in the same year more energized than before and deciding to approach her career on a more consistent basis. Ultimately, she announced in 2018 that she would be shedding Diamonds off her name. Thus, her just-unleashed, overall fourth album, titled Love + Fear, carries only her new stage name, the mononym Marina. Released on April 26, 2019, on Atlantic Records, Love + Fear is an ambitious, double-album effort; it is comprised by two eight-track collections—Part “Love” and Part “Fear.”

“Fear” opens with the album’s lead single—the mellifluous “Handmade Heaven.” The Dreampop sensibilities then carry on through the ensuing “Superstar.” Marina then shifts the gear to an upbeat and playful mood with the choppy and galloping “Orange Trees.” The following “Baby,” which features the British band Clean Bandit, is a mix of Electropop and Middle Eastern/Latin Pop, gyrating glowing echoes of Shakira (“Hips Don’t Lie”).

The Pop excursion continues with “Enjoy Your Life,” which showcases a more soulful texture of Marina’s voice. “True” then returns the listener to Synthpop territories, taking Marina once again into the league of Synthpop princesses such as Lights (“Drive My Soul”) and Ellie Goulding (“Lights”). A delve into piano balladry then follows in the form of “To Be Human”—dark, brooding, and touching. “End of the Earth” closes the album’s first part in an undulating and melodramatic predisposition.

“Love” begins in the pulses and flickers of the mid-tempo “Believe in Love,” which carries a very strong and positive lyrical message—a timely anthem for the often-challenged millennial generation. The string-laden “Life Is Strange” is a change of style and pace—a matrimony of Neoclassicism and Sophistipop. “You” is another Dreampop track—breezy, uplifting, and subtly dancey.

Slightly syncopated and jazzy, “Karma” is a feel-good song that has enough graceful sways and bright corners to keep the listener’s focus firmly hooked. “Emotional Machine” then progresses into Trip-Hop domain, befitting it onto a playlist that includes songs by Massive Attack (“Paradise Circus”) and Thievery Corporation (“Sweet Tides”). Further sliding into the Soul rhythm train is the sensuous “Too Afraid,” which is then followed by “No More Suckers”—another Latin-glazed lolly-Pop tune. Finally, Marina wraps up her pièce de résistance aptly with the minimalist R-n-B ballad “Soft to Be Strong”—smooth, slow, yet nonetheless optimistic.

Diamonds or no diamonds, Marina with her music remains impassioned and powerful, as every track soars and floats gently and confidently into the listener’s yearning ears. Love + Fear is definitely a masterpiece, surpassing its predecessors not only both in quantity and quality but also in accessibility. Cryptic Rock gives Marina’s Love + Fear 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Love + Fear:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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