Most know Marina and the Diamonds (aka singer Marina Diamandis) as the band behind the glitzy, self-obsessed radio hit in 2012, “Primadonna.” But before Diamandis’ enigma of Electra Heart surfaced, the singer had already released an album in 2010. Titled The Family Jewels, it shows her arrival in the music industry as a distinct tour de force. Songs on the album are like gems themselves, and range from glittering red to devilish black. They feature her as a brazen artist with a powerful voice, coupled with an endless imagination.
Everything is filled with intensity and glamor, like a shot of adrenaline. Even in the Alternative category, her music stands out. It’s all said and done in the album’s first song, “Are You Satisfied?”, a lyrically powerful jewel with an edge of rock. “Shampain” only goes deeper into the glamor. Her voice is dizzyingly beautiful, where the hope and pain are irreversibly mixed. And while her songs are outlandish and fierce, they grow on you. “I Am Not A Robot” is more lonely and endearing than ever, with a shimmering metal heart, and “Hollywood” is a sweeping tribute to the land of the free. Glorious, messy, overflowing with glitter, Diamandis rises with angelic power, previewing her voice’s capabilities in albums to come.
Her lyrics are self-reflective, and often straddle the line between mocking and philosophical. Her voice is the only pure thing about the album. Singing of poisonous relationships, to forged glamor, she’s like a slowly falling star. “Obsessions” is hollow, full of shame; the bare ballad is filled with echoes throughout the song. “Girls” takes the high road, a dramatic, sarcastic melody that runs over a hammering piano. Diamandis personifies the dark, suspicious view of the outsider, more than ever in “The Outsider,” a murderous, thrilling adventure. “Oh No!” packs a playful punch, where Diamandis’ artistic genius is its own destruction, and “Seventeen” focuses on her barefoot voice and melody. Her churning voice never stands to be tamed.
And no matter what, Diamandis always proves to be the artist. Her songs are strangely liberating, as unpredictable and fierce as they are appealing. Caught in the jungle like a deranged, addictive animal, “Mowgli’s Road” features her voice crusading through the madness. “Guilty,” on the other hand, is full of thuds, smashes, a jewel as delicious as it is revolting. In bright technicolor, “Hermit the Frog” is the sleazy sequel to “Mowgli’s Road.” Gritty, delirious, it showcases Diamandis’ ability to ornament her songs to perfection. And the final track, “Numb,” reflects on the entirety of the album: where amid the chaos, mess, and glitter puke, we find something wholly unique. We’ve seen jewels of all sorts and colors, and can’t wait to see more. The family jewels are just getting started.