Marina is back, minus the diamonds, with her most personal album yet.
Oh, how we’ve waited for the healing properties of a new Marina album! In her four-year break following her last record, Froot, fans have eagerly awaited new music, while Marina ditched her Diamonds and reinvented her creative inspiration. LOVE + FEAR was created as a double album, with Love’s release on 4 April, so that fans could listen to each 8-track set separately. Marina describes this album as a search for her own identity, separate from her previous image as an artist she portrayed in previous albums.
LOVE + FEAR opens with lead single ‘Handmade Heaven’, and it’s truly a work of art. The opening lyrics, “I envy the birds high up in the trees / they live all their lives so purposefully” sets the tone for her most poetic album to date. Marina’s vocals are ethereal in her description of paradise. Since its release as a single, fans have taken to playing this song over videos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth, all over the world, which eventually turned into a collection entitled ‘Fanmade Heaven’. ‘Handmade Heaven’ struck a chord with so many listeners, and it’s a really personal opener for an album dedicated to identity and exploration.
Following the same themes, ‘Orange Trees’ is a love song to the beauty of planet Earth, written about the island her family comes from. “Flowers in my hair / I belong by the sea” continues the natural poetry we heard in ‘Handmade Heaven’ and reflects her own sense of peace. Marina’s vocals are consistently a highlight of the album, and I stand by that her voice can never fail to make you smile. This was her exact goal for LOVE + FEAR, to write music that could have a positive impact on the lives of her listeners. As far as feel-good songs go, this is one of the best.
And yet, Marina doesn’t stick to just one tone in this record, and ‘Baby’ comes as a surprise within the first collection of songs. ‘Baby’ is Marina’s collaboration with Clean Bandit and Luis Fonsi, released in November last year. It takes a step back from the deeply personal content of previous songs, and instead stands out as a catchy, Lain-influenced hit.
Of course, this variation makes the really special lyrics stand out, and hit you especially hard. Personally, I’ve been using Electra Heart and The Family Jewels to hit me with the hard truths for years, and LOVE + FEAR is another record to add to this collection. ‘To Be Human’ delivers on this emotional guarantee. Singing “All the things I’ve done and seen / Still I don’t know, don’t know what life means”, this song will make you question everything. ‘To Be Human’ sounds like a lullaby, while spreading the wider message that although we are a divided society, we are all unified by our cluelessness about the meaning of life. This is getting far too deep for an album review, but LOVE + FEAR brings it out in me. Listen at your own risk.
Soon enough, it’s time for Marina’s second collection, Fear, and the emotional pace of the album doesn’t falter. In the chorus of ‘Life Is Strange’, Marina sings that “Don’t know what I’m doing with my life / But maybe there’s no wrong or right”. Despite the more negative title of this part of the album, the message here is uplifting: if Marina doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life, then there’s hope for the rest of us.
In ‘Karma’ we see hints of Marina’s previous creative persona. “I’m like oh my God I think it’s karma” is reminiscent of her more humorous and satirical tone in older hits like ‘Oh No!’ or ‘Primadonna’. It’s a nice reference to her former artistry, among the personal and creative changes that she narrates on LOVE + FEAR.
This record ends on a high with ‘Soft to be Strong’. It’s another case of Marina imparting her wisdom on the listener, that softness and strength go hand in hand, much like the titular emotions of the album. Without a doubt, some intense emotional experiences went into creating some of these songs that Marina is now sharing with the world.
In case you can’t tell already, LOVE + FEAR is a true emotional journey. Honestly, writing this review was an emotional journey. Marina might have changed her name and her creative process, but she hasn’t lost her ability to make us think about the more important things in life. This is one of her best, and it’s the record that we all need to hear.
Marina’s LOVE + FEAR is available now via Atlantic Records. Listen to ‘Handmade Heaven’ below: