Marina has returned with her fifth studio album Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land. The album is also her second under the rethought stage name MARINA (formerly Marina and the Diamonds). Being the political force she is, Marina certainly does not hold back on giving audiences a strong and educated narrative throughout the album.
Marina has never been easy to fix to a genre; her music contains the ever-changing style of pop, most heard in her second album Electra Heart alongside the indie alternative beats heard on her first album, The Family Jewels. Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land seems to seamlessly combine all of the best parts of Marina’s previous albums.
The first single to be released from the album was ‘Man’s World’. This song was initially met with varying reviews from fans and critics alike. This song went on to grow and grow on listeners. It holds onto the same narrative as ‘Purge The Poison’ and ‘Venus Fly Trap’. Like those two songs, this too is a feminist anthem.
The record is full of powerful, hard-hitting backing tracks such as the pounding drums featured on track three’s ‘Purge The Poison’. Here we hear Marina sing about society falling whilst her and her sister’s reform and gain back their identity. The song pushes an agenda—an agenda that our lives have become tainted and poisoned. Corruption, femininity, and the environment are the big three themes on this song. The song was the second single from the album and completely set the tone for what was to come.
Throughout her albums, Marina has taken a significant interest in the USA. Her debut album, The Family Jewels features the song ‘Hollywood’. A song that opens with “American queen is the American dream”, leading into an honest chorus stating “Hollywood infected your brain”. This album led into the Electra Heart—a heavyweight pop album that discusses multiple personalities brought about as a result of depression, self-loathing, and sexuality. The album uses a Marilyn Monroe-esque style to push an Americanised image.
Her fourth album Love + Fear featured the song ‘To Be Human’, which once again points fingers towards America by singing “there were riots in America, just when things were getting better”. The most recent American reference features in New America. The sixth track of the album tells the USA that “history is catching up” and it’s time the country pays its dues. Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land, track three, ‘Purge The Poison’ also begs God to foreign America for every single war. America has always been a country with a hazy reputation and a large topic of political conversation, especially in recent years. It is easy to see why someone as socially and politically educated as Marina would use her music to raise those issues.
The final tracks draw away from politics and focus on love and personal connection. Marina has never lacked honesty in her music. She sings of regret, growth, and sadness. ‘I Love You But I Love Me More’ begins with haunting, nursery rhyme sound. The beauty in this song is its lyrical simplicity. The basic rhymes matched with the dramatic backing vocals create the perfect pairing for a deeply meaningful song.
Following this is ‘Flowers’. Here we notice Marina becoming reminiscent of a past love. The song is about the ‘What if?’ questions that occur throughout relationships. She sings of maybe if they had done something she would not have walked away. Marina sings the lyrics over an emotional piano solo. Marina Diamandis has a perfectly interchangeable instrument: her voice. She perfectly displays this in the song, especially when compared with other tracks on the album. The impeccably diverse performer creates a soft, almost tearful sounding. Marina has always proven that with any song or any theme, she will emote it stunningly.
Overall, the record is a triumphant return for Marina. The way she has managed to draw the best parts from each of her previous projects encapsulates how outstanding she is as an artist and a performer. This album deserves every success and is definitely worth every listen.
Words by Luke Severn
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