Marina and the Diamonds

Froot

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Following the success of her 2012 sophomore effort, the slick if highly conceptual Electra Heart, Marina and the Diamonds' singer/songwriter Marina Diamandis eschewed the multi-producer/co-writer approach she took with that album, choosing instead to write all the music on her own and record with just one producer, Dave Kosten (Brooke Fraser, Bat for Lashes). The choice was a smart one, and Marina and the Diamonds' third studio album, 2015's Froot, is an atmospheric, sophisticated work that finds Diamandis coming into her own as an artist. Recorded with Kosten and a working band, Froot combines everything that was uniquely tantalizing, and pugnaciously feminist, about her debut, while also retaining just enough of the enthusiastic pop hooks and dance beats of Electra Heart to keep things from getting too serious -- and there is a lot of seriousness on Froot. Cuts like the shadowy "I'm a Ruin" and the languid "Immortal" are airy, introspective epics that recall the cinematic balladry of Annie Lennox. Even the propulsive and ultimately empowering "Forget" finds Diamandis cutting to the bone with confessions like, "Yeah, I've been dancing with the Devil. I love that he pretends to care." But Froot isn’t all dark tones. On the contrary, Diamandis, never one to shy away from sugary high camp, imbues much of Froot with a fluorescent, celebratory independence, both musically and lyrically. Cuts like the crisp, '80s electro-infused "Savages," and the hip-swaying, new wave-sounding "Gold" juxtapose funky slap-and-pop basslines with shimmery synths, as Diamandis' headmistress of a voice (a husky Marlene Dietrich one minute, an operatic Kate Bush the next) soars above buoyant, pulsating rhythms. This sharply independent technique is perhaps best expressed on the fertile, tango-inflected title track, in which Diamandis revels in her newfound artistic and womanly freedom. She coos," I'm your carnal flower, I'm your bloody rose/Pick my petals off and make my heart explode/I'm your deadly nightshade, I'm your cherry tree/You're my one true love, I'm your destiny." Ultimately, with Froot, Diamandis has crafted an arch, swaggeringly impressive album that balances its pop sweetness with a deep-rooted maturity.

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