Marina & the Diamonds - The Family Jewels

Rhian Daly 14/03/2010

Rating: 4/5

“I'm gonna live, I'm gonna fly/I'm gonna fail, I'm gonna die” sings Marina Diamandis, Britain's newest and most exciting pop star on Oh No!, a lyric that characterises the whole of her first full length record, with its simultaneous self-assurance and insecurities. Not that the half Welsh, half Greek beauty need worry - chart competitor Ellie Goulding may have beaten her to the early accolades of 2010 but with The Family Jewels, Marina has produced a debut album so striking and honest it makes Lights look like second rate sixth form musings in comparison.

You see, Marina is a pop star you can believe in. She's not in this for the fame or for the cash but for the love of music and a need to do something she's long dreamed about. Her back story is one of sheer grit and determination, hilarious anecdotes of all the auditions she's tried out for - even trying to pass herself off as a boy in one memorable instance. Her drive and utter need to succeed are obvious over these thirteen tracks, even when she's not singing lyrics that tell you just that.

Whilst The Family Jewels is a sparkling pop triumph (as the latter part of its title suggests), what makes it such vital listening is the shadowy undercurrents that run right through its centre, from the extreme defiance of “It's my problem if I have no friends and feel I want to die” on Are You Satisfied? to Guilty's tale of “hiding body parts” and (we think not literal) dog killing shame.

Where Marina shines brightest though is on tracks like the aforementioned Oh No! and Girls, an empowered, feminist attack on the perception of how girls act and are expected to act in this day and age. On the surface it might be a glittering pop song littered with the sound of Marina's unmetered laughter and “blah blah blahs”, but underneath all that it's an intelligent, scathing criticism of the shortcomings of the female population.

Much has been made of her quirkiness, and certainly comparisons with the ever kooky Kate Bush do spring to mind but with records like this, Marina could easily become so much more.