“Welcome to the life of Electra Heart” (Marina Diamandis in Bubblegum Bitch)
Let’s face it, this project had everything to become a potential disaster. Immersed in a huge concept that wants to make a statement on the excesses and frivolity of modern life, Marina’s explanations about Electra Heart seemed sometimes like a very-elaborated excuse to justify what could ultimately be seen as a sell-out. After all, this is an artist whose first album was a cult (and under-appreciated) indie-pop record… how could she dare now to bring big-name producers into her sophomore? Working with Dr. Luke (Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne), Stargate (Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Katy Perry) or Diplo (M.I.A., Major Lazer, Usher, Justin Bieber) could only mean that she had finally given in to her widely-known ambition, thus forgetting her artistic integrity, right? Right?? And yet…
And yet, this view only reflects a common misconception that your record has to be low-budget to be authentic, while also forgetting that there’s a huge history of characters created in pop music that were a huge boost in reaching new levels (David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke, Prince’s Camille and, more recently, Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce or Nicki Minaj’s Roman…). And as far as authenticity goes, Electra Heart has it in spades, only with the extra supplement that it’s added by infectious hooks and huge choruses as much as big money can buy. Does that supplement make it a sell-out? Not really… The thing is, Electra Heart is 100% Marina, she only uses the concept and alter-ego-of-sorts to project all her views in a more effective way, making the whole album a very overwhelming journey through her feelings towards big topics like fame, success, glamour or teen depression. Either with the bubblegum pop of, well, “Bubblegum Bitch”, fist-bumping anthems like “Radioactive” and “Homewrecker” or the more leftfield electronics of “Fear and Loathing”, there’s space for everything while maintaining an admirable unity and coherence.
Two extra threats make Electra Heart reach even higher levels, and both are completely related to only Marina and no one else. First there’s her voice, now less affected by her trademark idyosincracies that marked her debut, thus becoming more versatile either in conveying fragile emotions or showing determination, depending on the needs of each occasion.
And then there’s the lyrics… Analysing the amount of messages and meanings behind Electra Heart‘s words would take a whole new review, so we will leave that to each own’s interpretations, only stating that they are absolutely genius. Many different stories and catch-phrases abound, making this character a bit of a schizophrenic and thus, in our opinion, even more authentic. After all, who likes one-dimension characters in real life? Just a few examples: “I’ll chew you up and I’ll spit you out, ‘cause that’s what young love is all about”; “You don’t love me, big fucking deal”; ““Come on baby, let’s just get drunk/Forget we don’t get on”; “I want blood, guts and chocolate cake”; “I wish I’d been a teen idol/Wish I’d been a prom queen fighting for the title/Instead of being sixteen and burning up the bible feeling super, super, super suicidal”. Dear lord, we’re having goosebumps just by writing these…
So in the end, this is not Maring selling out to Top-40 formulas. It’s actually her bending and twisting those rules, to create something entirely her own: a masterclass in perfectly-craftet pop music with an unique and irresistible attitude. (8,5/10)