The Family Jewels is one of those albums that feminists would have a field day with. Marina Lambrini Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds jumps from one minute professing in an up tempo chorus that ‘I fall asleep, when they speak of the calories they eat’ (Girls) to an intricate bridge, exploring the complexities of cracker buying in Obsessions. This dichotomy seems to weave throughout the album, especially in Oh No! which switches from self assured lyrics, to troubled refrains, in a matter of seconds. Nevertheless, despite its oxymoronic nature, the album is power pop heaven.
Marina is perhaps best encapsulated by Mowgli’s Road. Initially released from her Crown Jewels EP, we can only pray that this 3 minute wonder is released from her album. Featuring perverse and yet oddly enticing lyrics which somehow manage to link Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, with cutlery, it manages to showcase Marina’s vocals alongside her deeply poignant lyrics, reminding us of a cross between Kate Bush and Toyah Wilcox. Similarly, whilst it may not appeal to a younger audience, Obsessions is a wonder lament on the complexities of the female form and relationships in general, which crescendos in its final minutes, to conclude as undoubtedly the best track of the album.
When MTTM first saw Marina live at Glastonbury in 2009, it was the vulnerable and idiosyncratic vocals which caught our attention. These factors which delighted us, seem to have been maintained on older tracks such as I Am Not A Robot but we can’t help but feel at times the studio mixing has stuck a layer of sheen on newer tracks, moving her from vocal extraordinaire, to pop princess. This no doubt, ensures her a spot on the Radio 1 playlist, but also means we suspect the more poetic, downbeat songs such as Numb will be sadly left out of the limelight.
It seems then, that at times Marina may have wandered into the commercial realms she seems to rebel against lyrically, the majority of the album contains a series of tracks destined for mainstream success. Suffice to say we’d welcome more allowance for the obscure tracks, which we think mark the pinnacle of her abilities and remove the likes of Shampain which we can’t help but label as twee. Nevertheless, despite our minor complaints, the album is still a gem of a release, destined to shine as the sound of 2010.