Reviews: ‘Electra Heart’

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Courtesy of Marina and the Diamonds Press Photography

There comes a point in every post-breakup ritual when a girl gets angry, changes her hair color and becomes vocal about vengeance. During an era of Adele withdrawals, Marina and the Diamonds’ second album, “Electra Heart,” and I met at this particular intersection. Together, we’ve survived botched pixie cuts, peroxide-blonde dye jobs, the transition from student to unemployment and a bevy of Mr. Not-So-Rights. The concept album “Electra Heart” summons Marina’s alter ego–a shadow sister called Electra Heart–who has chopped and screwed her long dark locks for a Madonna-like hairstyle and sound. No longer the quirky alterna-girl who asked, “Why would you want to be a Hollywood wife?” in her 2010 single “Hollywood,” the new Marina has assumed the caricature of “housewife, beauty queen, home-wrecker, idle teen,” but she does so as a sacrificial model to the wreckage of male expectations.

 

In her opening track, “Bubblegum Bitch,” Marina welcomes you to the life of Electra Heart in true power-punk fashion, with an upbeat tempo and diabetic-sweet lyrics like “Candy vest, sweetie pie, wanna be adored / I’m the girl you die for.” However, her lemonade lyrics aren’t without bite, as she follows that stanza with lyrics on the reality of an unhealthy love: “I chew you up and I spit you out / ‘Cause that’s what your love is all about.”

 

The insatiable lead single “Primadonna” follows with an orchestra of the disco-house beat and synth that overpopulates radio today, but she revamps it to create a more original, operatic sound á la Florence Welch. Essentially, this homage to high-maintenance diva status doesn’t make me want to duct-tape my ears shut like Lana del Rey does with her melancholy belting. For those unable to translate my hyperboles, “Primadonna” is pretty great as far as generic catchy singles go.

 

“Radioactive” has a similar synth and house vibe, but with a more powerful urgency to remove pleasantries and approach darker sentiments without the satirical guise. She confronts her ex-lover’s duplicity with an accusatory directness: “In the night your heart is full / And by the morning empty / Well baby, I’m the one who left you, you’re not the one who left me.” If that isn’t a scorned woman’s anthem, then Alanis Morissette has always been lucky in love. (Hint: she hasn’t been.)

 

Both self-destructive and fiercely honest, “Electra Heart” is a dialogue of the post-breakup rage and “man-sanity” that has inspired testaments of talent throughout music history (Joan Jett, the godmother of punk, would not approve of this kind of blasphemy). If this hyperbole seems overwrought with fan-girl worship, Marina and the Diamond’s “Electra Heart” can at least be designated as a great soundtrack for ex-boyfriend effigy burning, mixed martial arts training and target practice. Save your internship money from Katy Perry’s watered-down electro-pop on the big screen and download “Electra Heart” instead.

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