Female performer with quaint Christian name and inanimate-object appendage alert! Marina and the Diamonds are the latest “and the” band, if indeed they are a band. Some of her/their songs are full-band performances even though on her MySpace, under “band members”, it simply says “me”. So we’re not sure who or what Marina’s Diamonds are, but then it took us quite a while to work out what Florence’s Machine was, let alone Joe Lean’s Jing Jang Jong.
The Welsh-born musician insists that her birthplace was “Ancient Greece” and that her heroes are Brody Dalle and Britney. Her songs are hard to fathom. They veer between simple keyboards-based ballads and more upbeat and catchy, quirky new wave-inflected numbers enhanced by bass, guitar and drums. In the latter instances, we’re assuming the sprightly nature of the music is an ironic cover for lyrics critical of modern mores in general and the male of the species in particular. “You’re only as sick as your secrets,” she says at the top of her MySpace, by way of a clue.
Further evidence that we’re dealing with a seriously warped mind in the body of a fox are her highly entertaining and angry, if grammatically unorthodox, musings on her website, which range from verbal annihilations of female pop stars to the vapidity of contemporary celeb culture. You get the impression that, in Marina’s twisted imagination, women are weight-obsessed WAGs and men are all creepy sleazebags. “I’m really sick, tired, depressed, uninspired by women,” she writes. “Vacant. Airbrushed. Empty. People. Getting. Paid. To talk. About fuck all. It’s great that Eva Longoria looks hot in a bikini, but if the sun dies and the world plummets into darkness and ice, will anyone fucking care?” Lily Allen? She’s not having it. “She was quite good until she wrecked it all by turning into everything she’s not. i.e. going on a diet, dying her hair slapper-blonde and flashing her boobies.” As for trying to compare her to Kate Nash, don’t even go there. “Because OOPS! I have a vagina and a keyboard!!!! WE SO SIMILAR!” Any fellas out there who haven’t run and hid yet, a word of advice: don’t nudge her during her gigs or you’ll get it in the neck, too, as one poor punter found out to his cost recently. “Hi to the ecstasy ridden guy who tried to tip my keyboard on the last song. I threw a girl punch, and as girl punches go, totally missed and clipped his jaw. May music never grace your grotty ears again. Loser. And say hi to your drug dealer for me. He made you look super fucking hot that night. Hehehe x.” Ouch.
She doesn’t sing like a harpy, more like one of those kooky new wave girls like Lene Lovich, all whoops, hollers, cackles and shrieks that make her sound strangely mid-European. It provides a neat counterpoint to the music. Seventeen opens with just piano, almost like an Elvis Costello circa-Armed Forces pop ditty, then starts to resemble one of those novelty synth-pop groups from the late 70s like Flying Lizards. The Shampain Sleeper, about using alcohol as an anaesthetic for a painful existence, sounds like fag-end-of-glam hit Glass of Champagne by Sailor and not just because they have a similar title – it’s got that weird mid-70s synth-glam stomp. Girls Girls Girls, a collaboration with New Order and Ladyhawke producer Pascal Gabriel, is a brilliant full-band performance and a potentially huge smash hit in which Marina bitches about women who have Botox and go on diets and recommends that we stuff yoghurts and stick to apple pies. And you can dance to it. We’ve Got Obsessions explains those Kate Nash comparisons, all mournful piano, voice to the fore and references to the miserable minutiae of everyday life, crackers and all. An intriguing young lady and no mistake.