Marina Diamandis has something of a marmite vocal. The idiosyncratic tone; the lilting inflections; the shaky vibrato. It’s unique, but it’s far from the most powerful of vocals and it lacks soul. So to place that vocal into the limelight on the opening track of this third album, ‘Froot’, is a strange choice. It’s a slow, piano-based anti-depression ballad that’s not indicative of the rest of the album.
Immediately afterwards we have the fizzing electropop of the title track, that lifts the mood to something that more closely resembles the fun, colourful album artwork and jokey name. It also sets the tone for the remaining tracks that flit between electro-disco (Froot, Blue) and soft rock (Forget, Better Than That). The major highlight, though, is I’m A Ruin – a gothic-tinged electronic ballad where Diamandis’ falsetto sounds genuinely haunting. It’s also one of the few tracks to live up to the name of the album’s producer: David Kosten, responsible for producing the output of Bat For Lashes. Immortal, the closing track, aims towards a similar sound, though her constant desire to be immortal feels a little trite.
There are some fleeting moments of brilliance scattered across ‘Froot’, but they never amount to very much. It’s bland, frothy and missing that special spark to make this pop album…pop. Her melodramatic vocal fails to cover up the lyrics that frequently rely on sayings and cliché. The polished production fails to cover the lack of genuine hooky choruses. The middle section of the album especially passes by without making an impact. It’s consistently mid-tempo and middle of the road, lacking a key single to push Diamandis into the limelight. As with her vocal, the album lacks soul.
What’s frustrating is that this same criticism could be applied to each of her albums. Despite a handful of hits, Marina and her diamonds have always failed to truly sparkle and the three year gap between previous album ‘Electra Heart’ and now hasn’t changed the situation. No matter how many polished albums are released, perhaps Diamandis is doomed to always be a diamond in the rough. Immortality is a long way off.
If ‘Froot’ really was a fruit it would be a watermelon: initially refreshing, but ultimately lacking in flavour. After a couple of chews, it disintegrates into very little.
* I’m A Ruin
Listen: ‘Froot’ is available now.