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Album Review – ‘The Family Jewels’ by Marina & the Diamonds

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


  1. Are You Satisfied?
  2. Shampain
  3. I Am Not A Robot
  4. Girls
  5. Mowgli’s Road
  6. Obsessions
  7. Hollywood
  8. The Outsider
  9. Guilty
  10. Hermit The Frog
  11. Oh No!
  12. Seventeen
  13. Numb

First off, I have to say that ‘The Family Jewels‘ by Marina & the Diamonds is definitely not for everyone. And it’s really not a problem with the songs (which are just about as pop as songs can be), but the problem is Marina Diamandis’ (that’s Marina & the Diamonds) voice itself. My sister thinks her singing is very affected and has a very unpleasant nail-on-chalkboard quality to it. I don’t agree with that extreme; I mean, I kinda really love this album to be honest, although I do get that Marina’s voice can be kind of a challenge to listen to, especially on some of the songs on the album where Marina’s singing voice acts like it’s skirting some kind of edge where it seems like she’ll go out of tune any nano-second (listen to ‘Shampain‘ to see what I mean). She has this really hard tone to her voice that makes it sound like she’s constipated and like her vocal chords are all tense of something. It’s very weird. The voice is really kind of an acquired taste that you have to get sensitized to in order to enjoy the songs.

But the songs on the album are so much love – they’re wacky and interesting and fun and just pure pop magic with really catchy hooks a-plenty! The entire album is almost like this big giant wink, seriously. A comparable album that I can think of when it comes to how distinctively pop-theatrical and bombastic ‘The Family Jewels’ sounds is Mika’s ‘The Boy Who Knew Too Much‘.

I loved ‘I Am Not A Robot‘ from the first listen, when iTunes made it available for free download before. Personally, I thought it was the best pop song from the album, and Marina doesn’t sound as halfway annoying as she does on some other tracks.

There’s a very strong Girl-Power theme that runs through the album, from her asking ‘Are You Satisfied‘ (Are you satisfied/ with an average life?), to the very angry ‘Oh No!‘ which ranges from teen-age angsty (Don’t do love, don’t do friends / I’m only after success, don’t need a relationship) to pretty self-empowering lyrics (I know exactly what woman I want to be / Self fulfilling prophecy). ‘Girls‘ is another very angry pop song where Marina’s hard tone actually works. I actually love this one, except that I can hardly decipher what she’s singing, except that she’s talking back to someone or some people. I really enjoyed these three tracks the most, aside from ‘I Am Not A Robot‘.

Listen to “Oh No!”

Some of the songs are self-consciously silly/ironic like the very catchy ‘Shampain‘ (I feel celestial…) and ‘Hollywood‘ where she sings about foolish girls in Hollywood. These two songs in particular reminded me of my mom’s Abba albums, not sure why, something about the sound? And ‘Hermit the Frog‘ is this very dramatic, slightly deranged performance piece of a song that you either detest or love. It can swing any way really.

The only songs my sister can even tolerate are ‘Mowgli’s Road‘ which is kind of Gospel-the Marina way, but I think it’s totally ridiculous and hilarious at the same time, check the weird lyrics out! And ‘Numb‘ where a heavenly choir accompanies Marina and kind of masks her voice. There’s also very strong Enya elements to this one.

Marina does turn serious on some tracks. Her voice is actually pretty gorgeous on ‘Obsessions‘, and I kind of like the wordplay on ‘The Outsider‘ (Feeling like a loser / Feeling like a blonde). ‘Rootless‘ is very very serious as well, same as ‘Guilty‘ but in a bombastic way that I ultimately couldn’t really take seriously. Isn’t that ironic?

The Family Jewels‘ is available on Amazon as an MP3 Album ($9.99) or as an Audio CD ($12.99). You can also download the album on iTunes ($9.99).

You can also check out Marina and the Diamonds’ Official YouTube channel where they have a lot of the songs from this album up, but don’t judge the songs by the videos (they all look cheaply produced for some strange reason).

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  1. February 4, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I actually LOVE Mowgli’s Road!!! 😀 I love this album a whole, lot, too!

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