Marina and the Diamonds: She enjoys being a bitch, with a jolt of '80s attitude. Romantic reversals pave the way for edgy retaliation on a new CD, and Welsh singer adds some humorous sting to boot.
Love conquers nothing in the songs of Marina Diamandis. True, it transforms you, but in a wholly negative way. In nearly every song on Diamondis' ruthlessly frank second CD, the betrayals of romance cause her to retaliate by assuming a series of vicious and vengeful types, telegraphed right in her song titles: "Bubblegum Bitch," "Primadonna," "Home-wrecker" and "Valley of the Dolls."
It probably should be said right now that Diamandis (who records under the name Marina and the Diamonds), also has a terrific sense of humor, leavening her bile with pluck.
"I'll chew you up and spit you out/cause that's what young love is all about," she sings wryly in the opening track.
"Primadonna girl, yeah/all I ever wanted was the world," she announces with snot-nosed relish in a song called, yes, "Primadonna."
Diamandis matches such character-driven body blows to armor-plated music that sounds like it lost its way from the '80s. Given the tough production sound and synthetic instrumentation, the music offers the sonic equivalent to new wave-era female fashion - shoulder pads, mannish suits, stiff hair and make-up-as-war-paint.
The sound holds its own happy irony. Its coldness finds relief in the songs' blithe catchiness, as well as in Diamandis' vocal flair.
All those qualities have made this Welsh-born singer/musician a major star in her native isles. Her second and latest CD, "Electra Heart," has already gone No. 1 in Britain, Scotland and Ireland.
Vocally, the 26-year-old has something in common with Florence Welsh (of Florence and the Machine). Both sing in queenly arcs, like vocal Valkyries. Suited to the '80s, Diamandis' voice also has a bit of Lene Lovich's quirky chirp, as well as some of the bravado of The Motels' Martha Davis. You can hear traces of both in "Bugglegum Bitch," whose speedy synth and guitar have a period angularity. Many songs rely on comically squat synth lines that work like a sneer.
It's an apt sound for Diamandis' cynical world view. It also lends an interesting irony to her music. She uses highly synthetic music to protest fakery. More, she's making a stinging statement about her own field. Diamandis sends up the cliches and manipulations of young female pop stars with a sound and style that justify her becoming one.