Marina & The Diamonds - The Family Jewels

As bold and brilliant a pop debut as any of us, her diamonds, could've dreamt of.

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Released 22 Feb 2010 | | By Anthony Hill | Rating: 4-5
Marina & The Diamonds - The Family Jewels

"I'm a fucking wildcard," she screams like an unruly brat mid-strop. Perhaps not the most charming of introductions, but then this is Marina Diamandis, and she's kind of got a point. As 'The Family Jewels' amply demonstrates, Marina's a strong force to be reckoned with. It's as bold and brilliant a pop debut as any of us, her diamonds, could've dreamt of. That's right, Marina & The Diamonds is not a band. It's the name this volatile pop vixen adopts to front her frank and fiery stomp across the charts - singlehanded. Her celebrity stock is soaring too. With numerous TV appearances, a BRIT nomination, and latest single 'Hollywood' sitting pretty at number 12, she's hot property.

Luckily, the album's almost here. Just in time to save Marina - the musician - from the claws of an evil tabloid twin and the landfill pop abyss; a fate worse than death she'd probably argue. She's worked her backside off for this and she wants to make that clear. Determined to distance herself from the Katy Perry zeitgeist, she harangues the shallow and calorie-obsessed in scorn.

'Are You Satisfied?' opens the show, relaying tales of past self-doubt and identity crises; a problem Marina seems to have addressed by simply being countless different versions of herself. From shimmering 80s glamour on the hideously titled 'Shampain', to cheeky schoolyard chants on 'Girls' and electro perfection on 'Oh No!', it's an unquestionably fabulous collection of tunes. What's also remarkable is that, by no means, are past singles 'I Am Not A Robot' and 'Mowgli's Road' among the most memorable tracks. If anything, they feel slightly hollow by comparison.

Name-checking of songs has limited effect here, though. There's not one single ounce of deadwood to be found anywhere. Marina, in her many guises, has pulled it well and truly out of the bag. Instead of a mere gimmick - wacky costumes and pandering to girl-on-girl fantasies, for example - this seductive songstress leaves her mark with fresh, eclectic and distinct pop gems. One minute she's a femme fatale, the next she's a fragile little flower - hints of crazy sprinkled throughout - but it just works. It works because instead of conflict between these personalities, there's beautiful cohesion. The woman's a genius.

If 'The Family Jewels' is where she is now, just imagine the sparkling treasures she might unearth given more time. The album is quite simply stunning and, for now, we're entering MarinaMania™. Let's hope it never ends.