Twenty-four-year-old British songbird Marina Diamandis’ (aka Marina and the Diamonds — confusingly, the Diamonds aren’t her band, she’s a solo artist) eccentric vocals and lush, quirky pop sounds have led to a few Kate Bush comparisons since the February release of her debut album The Family Jewels.
But to this scribe’s ear, it’s her lyrics — verbose, anxious, occasionally self-obsessed — that bring to mind Bush’s quarter-life-crisis masterpiece, 1982’s The Dreaming.
“It’s funny that you’d be so specific, because I never actually listened to her growing up,” Diamandis told Southern Star from her London flat.
“I only started to recognise how brilliant she was because I was getting those comparisons. I realise our vocal ranges are very similar, and she has a real narrative quality to her work which I hope I have because I like telling stories.”
And what of all those fears given voice in songs like album opener Are You Satisfied? Is Diamandis really riddled with mid-20s anxiety?
“Songwriting appeals to me because I can express myself much more coherently than I do in real life. It’s about deconstructing the image that you present on the surface.
“The artists I listen to who are really honest make me feel a lot less lonely, or relieved that other people feel the same way too. If I can make people feel that too, I’ll be really happy.”
Alongside the very 24-year-old lyrical theme of figuring out what she wants to do with her life, Diamandis spends much of the album giving her opinions on dumbed-down celebrity culture and its effect on her peers, often with sparkling wit (as on infectious single Hollywood) and sometimes more caustically (the rather bitter Girls).
“I think about it on a daily basis. You do see people — women in particular — who start out smart and individual and then get spit out of the industry 15 years later acting and looking the same as every other female pop star,” she said.
“The song Hollywood is all about the contradictory nature of my job. As a musician, even if you don’t care about being famous, you still somehow get sucked into the celebrity world and you can end up representing everything you hated. For instance, for me, I literally can’t stand anything to do with money — fancy cars, fame, big houses. I hate all of that.
“But I realise I’m in this industry now and I’d hate for people to look at me and think I’m a part of all that.”
info: The Family Jewels (Warner) out now.