Marina and the Diamonds

Electra Heart

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The second studio album from Marina Lambrini Diamandis finds the mercurial Welsh singer/songwriter assuming the role of diva in waiting, trading in the ballsy, quirky retro-pop of her 2010 debut, Family Jewels, for the glitzy (and still relatively ballsy) electro-thump pomp of Ke$ha and Lady Gaga. Produced by Dr. Luke (Katy Perry), Liam Howe (Sneaker Pimps), Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen), and Rick Nowels (Madonna), Electra Heart is a brooding, sexy, desperate, overwrought, and infectious record that's both aware and unashamed of its contrivance. In short, Diamandis is trying to expose the artifice of big-box pop music by using its own voice, and despite the obvious trappings of the concept, she does a fairly respectable job. Her resonant operatic voice is expressive enough to make a lyric like "Candy bear, sweetie pie, I wanna be adored/I'm the girl you'd die for," from the capricious opener "Bubblegum Bitch," feel less like a floozy come-on and more like a malicious schoolyard taunt. When she sticks to that persona, as she does on standout cuts like the Lykke Li meets "Viva la Vida"-era Coldplay-influenced single "Primadonna" and the saucy, Lana Del Ray-inspired "Teen Idle," Electra Heart beats with the feral blood of an army of disenfranchised high-school loners coming into their own, but deeper, more depressive cuts like "The State of Dreaming," "Living Dead," and the grim, dancefloor-ready downer "Homewrecker," despite their catchy melodies, clever wordplay, and meticulous, radio-savvy production, reveal the lonely rebel, defiantly eating lunch alone, secretly wishing for acceptance.

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