Marina Diamandis announced her US tour, “Neon Nature”, last week to accompany her most recent release, “Froot.” As a long-time Marina and the Diamonds fan, the new chance to see her perform live inspired me to take a deeper look at “Froot.” At first, I was a little hesitant to delve into this album after hearing only the disco-inspired title track, but my doubts were immediately put to rest on first listen.
The album opens with a slowly building piano-ballad musically reminiscent of her work on “The Family Jewels.” She sets the tone for the record and shares a journey of self-acceptance. The message of contentment she sings about is a far cry from the “shampain” soaked doubts and desire for stardom she lamented in her debut album. Next, the title track and first single, “Froot”, is a sexy retro-pop song that could have been sung by her bottle-blonde alter-ego, “Electra”, who inspired her last dance-soaked concept album. The track settles perfectly within the album, assuring that Marina isn’t ready to hide from fantasy completely.
The second single and following track, “I’m a Ruin”, is a song about heartbreak that still packs a beat. She uses her voice to lend a catchy swaying hook to the song that begs the listener to join in singing out their own lovesick cries. “Blue” continues on the heart-break theme but quickly builds to an infectious pop track. “Gimme love, gimme dreams, gimme a good self esteem” Marina embraces her insecurities and co-dependent tendencies in this song and shows her .
“Forget” tries to push back on her vulnerability. A sadness tinged pop track displays the lyrical honesy Marina fans have come to expect. In the end, Marina reigns in all her fears and sings, “‘Cause in the end, the road is long,
But only ’cause it makes you strong.” Another track, “Gold”, is dreamy and filled with claps and synths that bring a melancholy beach vibe. Marina rides the waves and sings how she’s questioning it all. She’s anything but sure of herself.
“Can’t Pin Me Down” stand out as a melodic ‘F.U.’ to critics. “Do you really want me to write a feminist anthem?”, she questions. Marina pushes up against the girl-power trope used by female musicians and expresses her frustrations about being type-caste. The lyrics tackle feminism and Marina’s own identity as an artist. This track stands out on the album and highlights how she has come into her own. Instead of complaining about the superficial lives of women as in “Girls” or exploring the double standards in female sexuality as in “Sex Yeah” she makes a personal statement that she is an artist first and every other label comes second.
What is most refreshing about Marina is her continued commitment to embrace her contradictions. She has refused to pigeon holed as purely indie or purely pop. Her honesty shines through in this album, embracing her lighter side without the use of a stage name or a new persona. What Marina does so beautifully in this album is combining personal lyrics with strange but fitting metaphors much in the vein of indie “singer songwriters” but smashes expectations with a colorful persona and addicting melodies that are more fitting for packed arena rather than a coffee house acoustic set. “Froot” is the perfect combination of the rawness she showed in “The Family Jewels” and the exploration of fantasy and dance beats she showed in “Electra Heart.” “Froot” is an album meant to be devoured whole. It’s satisfying purely as a summer pop album but also carries a personal message that will long outlast any dance record. With her upcoming tour, Marina is setting herself up for a career that is, sadly, rare among female performers. She remains totally in control of her art and, judging by her songs, is learning to truly embrace her success.