“Living La Dolce Vita”: FROOT by Marina And The Diamonds



            I have had a strange fascination/obsession/love with Marina And The Diamonds ever since “I Am Not a Robot” from her album Family Jewels was available for free on iTunes. I got it, listened, and kept listening to her work. The great thing is that all of her albums have their own vibe, but the overall tone and style of the lyrics doesn’t necessarily change. So I patiently waited for her newest album to be released and went out and bought the CD.

            That’s right, in a day and age of digital downloads, I went out to the store and bought a physical copy. Nowadays this is a privilege reserved strictly for my favorites, and I’m not afraid to say that Marina is my favorite pop/alternative artist. So Froot has been in my car’s stereo for over a week, playing on repeat, syncing the music into my wiring, and I come to you now with my thoughts on it.


            As with all CD releases these days, a few tracks were available beforehand so I was already very familiar with the title track “Froot” and the opener “Happy.” Fitting them into the actual layout and order of the CD though changes how I see them. “Happy”, a somber piano ballad full of introspection, leads into “Froot” the most mainstream-sounding song on the album, but there isn’t any dissonance. “Happy” is a great track on its own, mainly because of its relatable nature and subject, as well as Marina’s honest vocals. This song also goes hand in hand with the overall story of the album; with Electra Heart, Marina took on a persona and that CD is definitely more mainstream fitted. “Happy” is about doing what you want; doing what makes you, well, happy. It’s also an interesting choice (that works) to make a soft, intimate song the opener on the album instead of another one.

            “Froot” is a fresh burst of pep after the minor-bum of the previous song. It actually reminds me of “Jack and Diane” by John Mellencamp from the way that one verse changes into another and then changes yet again, but adds to the song instead of taking away from it. At 5:31 it is the album’s longest track, but it doesn’t feel like it.

            “I’m a Ruin” and “Blue” are strong examples of what I love most about Marina’s songs. There’s a strong emphasis on relationships, on fighting for them even when they’re not working, and, as in all of her songs, her  blatant honesty about how she feels when it comes to these things is refreshing in a day and age when innuendo or real emotions are shirked. There’s a certain rawness to her vocals on “I’m a Ruin” that shows her vulnerability in a way that other popular artists can’t. “Blue” is surprisingly upbeat even though it’s about regretting a break-up and just wanting companionship instead of a real relationship. The first verse is strongly relatable to anyone who’s left a relationship and then rethinks that decision.

            “Forget” and “Gold”, while not the most standout tracks on the album are still good. “Gold” seems to be a reflection of her changing attitude toward the music industry and her ability to stand on her own without their help. “Forget” is about the mistakes of the past, living in debt, and the price of fame.

            “Can’t Pin Me Down” is the shortest track on the album at 3:26, but it’s one of my favorites. There’s a great drumbeat throughout the whole track and it really makes it a kind of F-you to the industry that tries to generalize artists into categories and make them fit a certain image. It’s also interesting that this is the only track on the album with a curse word in it as her last album, Electra Heart, was chockfull of them—like overflowing with bitches, f-bombs, and others. So it’s kind of interesting after that to only have a single word spoken once in one song on the following album.

            “Solitaire” is another quiet track at first, but one with more of the electronic/house feeling to the vocals. It speaks to Marina’s uniqueness and wanting to stand out among similar things. It’s full of great similes in the lyrics, and shows off more of the variety in her vocals as they go from low to high notes.

            “Better Than That” is upbeat, but has a rock vibe to it that I like. It definitely catches your attention from the beginning of the track to the end. It speaks to doing better in life than moving from one one night stand to another, a constant heartbreak happening again and again willingly. “Weeds” speaks to the almost-immortality of relationships, how exes can stay in your heart for years after the relationship has ended and how that can screw up current loves. It speaks to those loves that you think you’ve moved on from, only to find that you never really did. Marina’s vocals soar on this track, showing both her range as well as that beautiful vulnerability.

            “Savages” speaks to the evilness of the human race, the things we do to succeed in life, and the cost that that comes at. It wonders if we will ever change or if we’ll keep doing the horrible things we do until we’re destroyed. We’re not as evolved as we think, hiding our savagery behind civility and pretending that everything’s okay. This seems a bit more reminiscent of her songs on Family Jewels but it fits fine where it is. There’s great lyrical movement throughout this song and it definitely gets you thinking on the status of the world.

            Lastly, “Immortal” carries that same heavy, softness to it that “Happy” does. It speaks about wanting to leave a lasting impression on the world, wanting to be remembered, and having a reason to live. This is a beautiful track, an excellent way to end the album, and it’s both mournful and celebratory. When you listen to the album on repeat (as I did) this also leads perfectly back into “Happy” so it comes full circle.

            If I had to create a genre for Marina and the Diamond’s work it would be called tragedy-pop, because while the songs are often upbeat and have a catchy hook the lyrics always reveal a deeper theme or meaning that isn’t present in a lot of today’s music. Marina’s range and ability to convey every emotion with her voice are some of her strongest abilities, but it’s also worthwhile to note that she wrote every single song on this album. That’s another thing that makes her unique in this collaboration world, and I love her for it.

            Do I recommend this album? Yes. Definitely. But I think to fully understand and appreciate Marina’s work on this album you have to go back to Family Jewels and work your way up to this, because it shows how much she’s changed not only as an artist but also as a person struggling to make it and be happy in today’s music industry.

            Best Song: “Happy” because a lot of people have commented on how it’s helped them with their depression and I’d have to agree. It’s also a beautiful song, a wonderful album opener, and an attention getter.

            Least Best Song: “Gold” because while I appreciate and like its message, it’s one of the tracks that I just listen to instead of jamming or feeling. It lacks a lot of the emotion or energy that’s present in the other songs, even if it’s still a good track.