In which I go into far too much detail about why I think this album is the best thing of the whole year thing: Marina and the Diamonds - Electra Heart.
Marina and the Diamonds’ last album, Family Jewels, was one of my favourites, if only because it was the first thing I’ve ever heard express feelings that I have on a regular basis; pop songs that weren’t about relationships and love so much as they were about a person’s thought process.
I don’t know how to explain it, exactly, but Family Jewels seemed to consist of a lot of references to things I understood, a lot. Isolation by choice, a misunderstanding of most social situations, a desperation to be recognised and an uncertainty as to why. I’m sure I haven’t articulated that as I’d want to.
Regardless, in a similar way, Electra Heart (though it has been set up and sold as a couple of different things) sounds to me like an expression of the same sort of seldom-talked-about feelings. I heard it mentioned in an interview that “State of Dreaming” was written after somebody on Twitter criticised a Marilyn Monroe quote because, y’know, not everyone thinks Marilyn Monroe is the epitome of what to be. But a bunch of people do!
I imagine that at some point or another we’ve all felt that pang of desperation to leave a legacy. Whatever legacy. The message matters less than you, you just want to be remembered. For a pretty face, even. Just a pretty face will do. Throughout both albums there seems to be running an idea of living big, and bright, and then going. A failure to find any sense of balance, a hunger for all and a hate for nothing. An idea perpetuated by so many icons: Marilyn Monroe, maybe, Kurt Cobain, sure. There’s a big list of dead icons but I don’t mean to spark debate over how ‘well’ they’d be appreciated were it not for their deaths.
That strange longing that I know I’ve felt for recognition beyond reason really resonates with me, and to hear it talked about in song form is really quite refreshing.
And that says nothing for the fact that (be it writer or fictitious character) the protagonist in this album is not good. Is not understanding, doesn’t have the right (“right”) ideas, has, actually, very little righteousness. Just pure, unabashed personality. Which, for a narcissistic, self-involved, self-analytical girl like me, is pretty fun to hear. I hate righteousness, I’m all for understanding the raw fact that I want some things for really shitty, selfish reasons.
It also illustrates perfectly (as do a few albums I’ve loved this year) the struggle between aggression and sadness that can be found in any aspect of loving someone: Being in a relationship, being chased, being left. It all results in this tremendous mix up of feelings and I really like the clear understanding of the masks a person puts on and removes where necessary in a romantic relationship, and the vulnerability that comes with it.
Teen Idle really perfectly explains how those of us who grew up socially inept and thinking too hard have learnt too late how to spend our adolescence, I think, and so many other songs convey the constant desire (or feeling of being convinced) that your life and decisions are little more than a show for someone/everyone else, that others are there to be pleased and that is why you are alive.
These aren’t ideas I intentionally or consciously agree with, but they are things I feel that are hard to escape.
All in all, none of the tracks seem like a speech to a guy, or anything like that, so much as they come across like journal entries. I’m just in love with this albums for (sorry to repeat myself) all the interesting ways it resonates, I’ve not heard anything like it in that respect and I love it.
I just love it.
I’m a big creep for this album.
As you were.