The album cover for pop-star-turned-Twitter-icon Marina Diamandis’s third effort is vibrant and colourful, reflective of the food source which it was named after; and the contents of “Froot” differ little from the vivid and rich front of the LP. First track ‘Happy‘ begins deceptively, mixing soft piano and melancholy chords with Marina’s trademark vocal delivery and melodies. However as the song progresses over its four minutes and four seconds, the piano accompaniment gets busier, a drum pattern kicks in and angelic backing vocals echo over lyrics about “melting sadness” and “believing in divinity”, leaving you with the sense that Marina is not turning her back on upbeat pop just yet.
The title track, with its bouncy rhythm section and buzzing synthesisers, further confirm this. The rubbery bassline and high-pitched vocals bring to mind some of the acts on DFA Records, such as YACHT and Holy Ghost, as well as Scottish synth-pop star Annie Lennox and her work with Eurythmics. It’s here that one of ‘Froot’s biggest strengths comes to the fore – the production on this album is essentially perfect for Marina’s voice. Not a single track is too sparse or too cluttered, and the variety of tones created from the fairly basic arrangement of instruments used on the LP (synthesisers, drums, bass and guitars, mainly) often keep the listening experience exciting and intriguing. Another highlight is the new-wave-esque ‘Better Than That‘, with its driving drumbeat-and-tambourine combo and sharp guitar stabs, it takes Marina and the Diamonds into a more rock-based style that recalls Blondie.
But the biggest problem with ‘Froot’ is that it generally feels like pop music: aesthetically pleasing and rich in hooks but ultimately forgettable and with more than just a sense of superficiality. Whilst I’m not doubting Marina’s musical or songwriting skills, almost every song on her third LP feels designed to be a “hit”, and as a result several of the tracks feel forced and flimsy. For every ‘Savages‘ there’s an ‘I’m A Ruin‘, for every ‘Blue‘ there’s an ‘Immortal‘. There’s no problem with being melodic but when the sugariness of the overall record begins to make you feel a little sick, you can’t help but wish for a little bit of bitter experimentation.
Overall, though, Marina and the Diamonds’ third LP is a success: it’s the type of record that will appeal to new and old fans alike, and may even win over some casual radio listeners with its tuneful hooks and melodies. But there is a general feeling of a missed opportunity when it comes to ‘Froot’; it feels like it should be an artistic statement, with its striking artwork and twelve-song-strong track list (most of which are well over four minutes long), but as a whole album, Marina Diamandis’s credibility seems to have been sacrificed for the sake of melody, and as a result, the ‘Froots’ of her labour come off a little rotten (boom boom).
Were you fooled into a false sense of experimentation by the artwork? Or are you a die-hard Diamandis fan? Let us know…