Electra Heart Deluxe Edition
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Electra Heart is the second album from Marina Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds. It is tasked with maintaining the standards of her debut album The Family Jewels and is produced by a cache of old school and A-List producers: Dr Luke (Katy Perry) and Liam Howe (Sneaker Pimps) but mostly (9 out of 12 songs) Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Kylie) and Rick Nowels (Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Lykke Li). The deluxe edition includes four bonus tracks.
Marina Diamondis, aka Marina and the Diamonds, doesn't make things easy for herself. For her follow-up to 2010's excellent debut The Family Jewels, she's created a sort of semi-concept album about female identity, focusing on various character types (Bubblegum Bitch, Homewrecker, Teen Idle etc) and disseminating their traits over throbbing electropop and plaintive piano. Songs focus on a recent breakup, creating a strange dichotomy between tracks that want to be enjoyed from a distance, almost ironically, and those that pull you sharply into her world.
Opening with the fizzing, Avril Lavigne-like stomp of Bubblegum Bitch, a sort of intro to the concept (“Dear diary, we fell apart, welcome to the life of Electra Heart”), it's an album that takes the template of The Family Jewels – slightly off-centre pop songs with dramatic vocals – and refines it. First single Primadonna, produced by pop behemoth Dr Luke, keeps a lot of Marina's charm but bolts it onto a big reverberating beat that explodes into a sky-scraping chorus. The State of Dreaming sounds like Kate Bush (sorry, sorry) fronting Coldplay, while the vampy Homewrecker mixes spoken-word verses with a stompy chorus of “I broke a million hearts just for fun”.
But it's when she's dealing directly with her emotions that Electra Heart shines brightest. Lies – given extra gloom wobble sadness by Diplo – unpicks a relationship falling apart in devastating detail, with Marina's unique voice pushed to the front as the entire song seems to sigh and shrug to an end. Similarly, Starring Role is heart-rending in its simplicity, Marina exposing herself (musically speaking) over a toy box piano riff and drum patters. Perhaps Electra Heart's oddest moment is Teen Idle, wherein the album's two opposing sides merge to create something singular. “I wish I'd been a teen idol, wish I'd been a prom queen fighting for the title / Instead of being 16 and burning up a Bible, feeling super super super suicidal” she sings in a childlike falsetto as a million Marinas repeat the “super super super suicidal” refrain like some mawkish choir.
There are moments where the songs themselves aren't quite interesting enough to prop up Marina's voice; and the inclusion of the teaser single Radioactive would have perked up a second half that sags slightly. But these are minor quibbles. Electra Heart manages to balance the ironic and the heartfelt, the quirky and the mainstream, the real and the fake with remarkable aplomb.
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Top Customer Reviews
In 2011 she surprised us all by releasing the very commercially influenced "Radioactive", and I became rather worried about this next album. When "Primadonna" came out I was relieved. Yes, it was sugary bubblegum pop, but Marina's voice sounded amazing and her pretty quirkiness was back and actually sounded really cool surrounded by the commercial but well produced beats courtesy of Dr Luke. I resisted the urge to write a review straight away, as many other reviewers have, as I wanted to live with the album for a while and know how I felt about it.
The album starts with "Bubblegum Bitch", which sounds like a song from the opening credits from a 90's American teen chick film ("Clueless" springs to mind for me). "Lies" and "Starring Role" are both very currently commercial in their sound, but Marina's lyrics and genuine sounding vocal delivery rescue them from being total sell-outs.
"The State Of Dreaming" starts out sounding like its title - dreamy, ethereal and beautiful, and suddenly explodes into a very poppy, sweet but catchy chorus. "Power and Control" and "Living Dead" use powerful 80's sounding beats and epic choruses and work very well.Read more ›
We begin with "Bubblegum Bitch": an in-your-face, self-centered song that serves as a brilliant opener to the album and gives a clear insight into the character of Electra Heart. Next up is "Primadonna", an instant classic that hits the heights of "Hollywood" from the first album. A 'celebration' of materialism, hedonism and the absolute desire to be famous. "Lies" feels like it probably should have been a single, it's that good. A sad reflection on a past partner who seemed to lack the courage to tell the truth or say how he really felt. "Homewrecker" follows and is a very catchy track where Electra Heart boasts about her ability to "break hearts for fun".
As we approach the middle section of the album, "Starring Role" and "The State of Dreaming" are probably the least catchy songs, but are fascinating insights into the eponymous character. The pace picks up again slightly with "Power & Control", a memorable song about the constant power struggle in a relationship, however the tone only dips from this point.
"Teen Idle" reflects mournfully on the wasted years of youth, obsessing over popularity. "Valley of the Dolls" appears to be about the book of the same name which I must confess I haven't read, but the dark tone is once again palpable. "Hypocrates" is another of Marina's clever portmanteaux combining the word 'hypocrite' and the ancient Greek physician 'Hippocrates'.Read more ›
I regret my original thoughts.
This album is surprisingly extremely good. The songs are extremely catchy, and not entirely electronic-dance style. Here's what I think of each track:
This is a really catchy, self-centred song (in a good way!). In this, Electra Heart (Marina's not-alter-ego-but-really-is) is saying how she is "miss sugar pink, liquor liquour lips" and how she will "pop your bubblegum heart". This is probably one of my favourite tracks.
The song reminds me of Hollywood from her first album. It's about being materialistic, and just wanting fame and glory. It's one of the more electronic songs.
In this song, Electra is stating how a boy and her should lie and pretend about being a good couple. They are very dysfunctional as a couple, but she is still asking him to stay, as she 'want[s] it to be perfect'. One of the darker songs.
Different to her usual songs, in this, Electra talks about how she 'breaks a million hearts just for fun.' It is highly catchy, and includes speech as well as singing.
Similar to Primadonna, this is talking more about how she feels as if she is in a movie with her boyfriend.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Item arrived on time. I was amazed by the fact that the CD was brand new despite being released long time ago and I could access the exclusive content: 2 remixes of Primadonna for... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Agata Czap
I love this album and I'm very happy to get in on vinyl. 'Living Dead' is not on this one for some reason, but it is still a pleasure to listen to. Read morePublished 6 months ago by vertcher
When I heard the 'normal' version of Electra Heart I knew I had to buy the deluxe to have the 4 extra songs! I'm a huge Marina fan and this is myt favorite of hers. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Courtney