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Crystal World
Format: Audio CDChange
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2013
This is, hands down, one of my favorite albums of all time by any artist, electropop or not.

I am a big Ladytron fan, and heard just a one-minute snippet preview of the instrumental section from Submariner about 5-6 months before the release of this album. That one minute snippet gave me chills and I pre-ordered the album on Marnie's pledge music site, trusting that I would like what was eventually released. I loved it. If you are a Ladytron fan, you'll notice some differences lyrically and melodically, with less "grittiness" or distortion in the synths as "Velocifero"-era Ladytron, but it almost feels like a dreamier continuation of Ladytron's "Gravity the Seducer" album. Think "90 degrees" with multilayered melodies and soft, arpeggiated organs. But Helen Marnie's voice and vocal range is excellent on this album, making use of her trademark softness but showing her talents with melodies that are really engaging. There is a somewhat dark undertone to part of the album not unlike typical Ladytron tracks, but without Mira Aroyo and Reuben Wu, the darkness feels less aggressive, more subdued and more emotionally vulnerable, and comes out as a hint of sadness underlying some of the tracks, although one could say that the opener "The Hunter" and "Sugarland" are the closest we get to aggression on this album. All tracks stand on their own well, but there are some that stand out just a little more. "Hearts on Fire" is as close as you'll get to a summer anthem with Marnie, with the catchy chorus, but still retains a dreamy, oceanic feel. "Laura" is one of my favorites because it is so haunting. Marnie layers her voice throughout and evokes a sense of mourning in the chorus, hinting at the disappearance and possible violent death of this mystery woman. In "Gold," perfect ending to the album, it's hard to tell if the words are about a love that has died or a love that still burns, but either way the lyrics evoke sadness. The lyrics "softly now, reach out and make your pillow in my chest," get me every time. But without question, the masterpiece on this album is "Submariner." Almost 8 minutes of immersion into the ocean depths via Marnie's amazing musical layering on this track. I enjoy the first minutes of the song in which she sings, but my favorite part is when her voice gives way half way through to melody and countermelodies layered beautifully (at times 3-4 melodies at once, with the main melody being a synth/filtered form of bells) that make me feel like I have been transported to another world, a world that is an endless beach and smells of salt, where I feel the sun on my face and the breeze on my skin. You can almost picture coastal Iceland where she recorded the album. In sum, the whole album has a dreamy, subdued quality that really does feel like the ocean, part of Marnie's inspiration for the album. The melodies are arpeggiated often, which adds to the dreaminess. There's also a hint of sentimentality of a bygone era. I typically pick and choose which Ladytron tracks I listen to, but Marnie's solo effort has no lackluster songs. In sum, this album is dreamy, a little haunting, and very well-made.

You will not be disappointed, Ladytron fan or not. It is an amazing work of artistry.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Helen Marnie has taken Ladytron's recent hiatus as an opportunity to make her own solo album. By using a pledge site she raised the funds herself and taken total control to record the record she wanted to make. And the results are wonderful.

Co-produced with Daniel Hunt also from Ladytron, it's inevitable that people with be looking for comparisons. There are odd flashes of Ladytron in there, but ultimately Marnie brings a more human warmth to the material. It may take a few listens, but once you fall into the different emotional and musical layers in this record, you almost forget that this is an electro album. At times it's almost orchestral.

Opener "The Hunter" is perhaps the most 'tron-like, and has a menacing edge, but even then it still has a less detached air than most Ladytron songs. The opening bars of Marnie's ghostly voice echoing over a building electro-pulsing beat is breathtaking as a statement of intent. This is definitely an album to listen to properly to discover its depths (listening to the tracks on YouTube through your phone just does not do it justice).

Natural themes recur including the ocean metaphors of two of the most beautiful tracks, "We Are The Sea" and "Submariner". The first has gorgeous harmonies in a catchy chorus while the latter is an epic, beautiful track that sweeps you away, especially the instrumental second half. "Laura" is a brooding, haunting piece that grows and grows. "Violet Affair" has a great 60s girl-pop psychedelic air, and closing track "Gold" is a bittersweet sunset of memories that washes over you.

This is a striking and coherent album and I hope it elevates recognition of Marnie as a musician and songwriter in her own right and more than simply the face of a band. Majestic.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2013
If you like Laytron you'll like this, if you like Gary Numan, OMD and The Human League you'll like this, if you like synths you'll love this! There's not a single track on it I can fault and I am picky! I can't recall buying an album in the last few years where at least one track failed to hit the mark. Not so with this CD. Lovely songs, 2 of them give me goose bumps! (Not easy to achieve for this rather cynical 44 year old Goth.) Pleasantly surprised and blown over! Awesome solo project from Marnie. Thank you!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2013
Thank you Helen!

Utterly lush, emotional rollercoaster ride, Sublime. X

I am a Ladytron fan who loves everything up to "Gravity the seducer" I had started to believe that the inspiration wheels had fallen off of the band(wagon) but how wrong was I. If you can release something as polished as this on your first solo outing then....... phew, wow and blimey, and consider my hat eaten!

A stand-alone wonder. Vocals, Lyrics and Music that dodge and weave and involve me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2013
I knew this was going to be good as it is Helen Marnie from Ladytron, and Ladytron are one of the most brilliant bands ever. Well, this album is also really brilliant as expected.

There was never much doubt that I would buy it, but for form's sake I thought I'd better listen to the samples first... Well, I just had to listen to the first sample of the first track and I was already hooked and couldn't resist any longer - I bought it there and then. The funny thing is, although I'd only listened to about 10 seconds of the album, it stuck in my head for the next hour. That's how catchy this album is!

Now that I have the album I can vouch that my initial favourable impressions have been more than confirmed. Ladyton fans won't be disappointed, as the genre is pretty similar - spacey and electronic and New-Wavey. To be honest this could almost be a Ladytron album (of course Helen's amazing vocals were one of the crucial ingredients of the Ladytron sound). I suppose this solo album tends to emphasize the slower paced, more melancholic side of the Ladytron repertoire. These songs are incredibly haunting and evocative.

"Sugarland" is my favourite track and one of the best songs I have ever heard, but all the tracks are really good. To be honest this is probably one of the best albums I have bought in years. Really, it is THAT good!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Totally in love with this album. It's ethereal and haunting, punchy and catchy all in one. First vinyl they sent was a limited edition white vinyl but unfortunately it was ruined when I opened it! Covered in black burn marks and wouldnt play without jumping. Replaced within 3 days (Thanks amazon!) and the new copy played awesomely. Unfortunately it was the standard black 180g.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2014
Helen's solo effort is a delight to the ears and well worth all the effort she put into it. It's very Ladytronic, as you would expect, and Helen's signature vocal is significant throughout. A good set of tunes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2013
Quite simply the best album of 2013 so far. I have loved Ladytron from the very beginning, and one of the main reasons for this is the magnificent vocals of Helen Marnie. She has decided to do a solo album, which I think tops anything that Ladytron have done.

All 10 tracks are brilliant. There is not a dud amongst them. Helen's vocals are haunting. Favourite tracks are The Hunter, Hearts on Fire, Sugarland, Submariner and Gold.

Many congratulations to Marnie. Brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2013
First of all I must congratulate the delightful Marnie (aka Helen Marnie from the magnificent Ladytron) on accomplishing such a fantastic debut solo album.
I for one absolutely love it...I've just played it twice right through and when I got to the end I still wanted to hear more. And there aren't many current albums I can say that about!
Being a fan of electronica I don't have a lot to rave over these days(Karl Bartos, OMD and Pet Shop Boys new albums apart) so 'Crystal World' is a more than welcome arrival.
Opener 'The Hunter' sets the mood straight away and is typically catchy yet somehow melancholic...perhaps we could call this melantronica?
'Hearts On Fire' is in a similar vein though Track 4 'Violet Affair' has a kind of 60s/70s beat.
Two tracks later we have 'Sugarland' with its wonderfully 'wonky synth' vibe running through it, followed by 'High Road', which to my ears sounds like a John Barry film-score at times despite being lyrically inferior to the majority of tracks.
'Laura' is cloaked in a much darker veil, though still manages to feature seaside organ sounding synths.
Brace yourselves now though as Track 9 is the impossible to put down 'Submariner' which is a bright and breezy up tempo number (with added melancholy for good measure). What sets it apart however is the utterly brilliant synth melody that makes its entry at the beginning only to reappear in all its glory to completely take over the final three and a half minutes...clearly Marnie and her cohorts loved it as much as I do and didn't want it to stop!
Then we have the final offering 'Gold'...quite simply a beautifully orchestrated song with a piano and synths providing a perfect backdrop for that Marnie voice to truly shine...oh! and it's all wrapped up by a lovely little melancholic synth outro.
Can't wait for the next one!
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on 10 March 2015
What a gem this album is and deserves a much wider audience. Wonderful songs and a wonderful voice. Superb production with deep, complex textures. It is, undoubtedly, a more accessible version of Ladytron, but that's to be excepted and no bad thing. My album of 2014 and I can't wait to see what she does next.
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