Released a decade ago on April 27, 2012, Electra Heart was the second studio album released by MARINA, when she was known as Marina And The Diamonds. It is an electro-pop / dance-pop album that delves into various themes.
One of the key themes that stand out on this record is identity, where the stereotypical identities are explored, which she relates to. The exploration of love is also evident through the record, from unrequited love, the possibility of true love and various views of love. She offers an introspective view of a love that differs from fairy-tale love, which many people can relate to.
The first song is a fast-paced “Bubblegum B*tch” where she promises to be a heartbreaker. She presents the identity of a beautiful girl with the American girl look and who gets someone to fall in love with her. The melody is airy and her vocals are cheerful but the lyrics reveal something darker.
“Primadonna” comes along, where her high notes dominate. It is a song about a girl who has everything. Living a life of fame with someone who loves her. She has gotten everything that she dreams of, but is she really happy? It outlines that life in the limelight can make one shallow or egotistical. This is one identity she has to assume. It has a more pop style to show the pitch-perfect life of the Primadonna girl.
I think everyone has experienced unrequited love and the denial that comes with it. “Lies” tells the story of a girl in love with someone that sees her as a friend. But the denial makes her hold on to the image of them. She showcases her high notes with a slower melody, but the pop elements are detectable in the undertones.
“Homewrecker” is pretty straightforward. There is an occasional voice-over that sounds detached despite the gravity of what it denotes. It is one of the identities. She has affairs and uses the guys for distraction but she does not let herself be tied down to them. She does not believe in the idea that there could be pure love, so she does not settle down. The highlight is the chorus, which is catchy and worth dancing to.
One of the saddest songs “Starring Role” is about a physical relationship but the girl wants more. She wants to be his one and only. She tries to stay away from him to protect herself, but he is always there to remind her why she loves him so much. She wants the starring role but yet she still settles, hoping that one day he will change. The song has yet the same poppy beat as most of them.
“State Of Dreaming” speaks of how she lives in a whimsical world and that her dreams are more real than what is going on. I feel like this song resonates with me too, for I, like many others, feel like I do not really belong. The wish to be like everyone else is evident. This song deals with a lot of escapism and a paradoxical view of what it means to belong or be yourself.
“Power And Control” starts with a harmony. It delves into how love is transactional nowadays. It about is how it is all a game of power. Shallow views about how someone looks seem to carry more value. This song was ahead of its time, but it seems very relevant in this modern era.
Then “Living Dead” storms in with disco vibes and sadder lyrics. This façade of a party song that speaks of a person who is not truly alive, many are forced to look inside them. I feel as if it is one of the most depressing songs on this album. She laments over who she could have been, the romance that she could have had in her wasted youth. She has not “lived yet” hence the reference to being the living dead.
The theme of a wasted youth carries on in “Teen Idle”. She wishes to take the identity of the teen idle. She could have been the pretty prom queen instead of being a depressed teen. She wants all those teenage milestones, getting into trouble, worrying about superficial things. The song itself is beautiful in its sadness, her high notes going well with the slower melody.
On “Valley Of The Dolls”, MARINA confesses that she puts on personalities that are not her own. I believe that many of us are guilty of this. The song is raw and speaks only the truth. It is where she puts away the masks and bares herself as she is, a bit difficult to listen to due to its various truths.
“Hypocrates” starts with a magical melody. It is about a person who has influenced her ideas of love because of her high regard for that person. But she is tired of having someone else dictate to her who to be or who to love. She may have put this person on a pedestal in the past, but now she has realized that not everything they tell her is true. It is a bit slower, but it has a very catchy melody and is different instrumentally.
“Fear And Loathing” should come with a warning sign because it is capable of causing waterworks. She is tired of the idea of love being bad. Tired of putting up the façade, so she wants to give in. She wants to feel the bliss of genuine love and to abandon her fear.
This is a song of hope. The one song in the album that paints love in a positive light. Her gentle voice makes the song feel like a lullaby. You can hear her pour her emotions, true and raw, in the song. This is my favorite song in the entire album and has been on repeat on my Spotify for days.
“Radioactive” was the first song by Marina that I listened to. It is about explosive love. But words like “radioactive” and “nuclear” hints at this love being obsessive, maybe bordering on dangerous. But she has left him, yet she still feels a certain way in his presence. The dance/pop music paired with her high vocals makes it worthy of a night out.
She opens with a flawless falsetto in “Sex Yeah” where she questions the ideas of society in the past on the act of intimacy. Mainly on the restrictions put on women which limit their freedom in dressing, love, etc. This is a ballad for women to not have to deal with the stigmas put on them by society, and I am here for it!
The second to last song, “Lonely Hearts Club” is where she questions whether she should put herself out there. By being nice, she is taken advantage of. Love does not seem to be something that lasts. She remains genuine but she can’t seem to find someone who wants to be with someone like her. Her chorus is very catchy, and the beat is very upbeat.
And then, she closes off the album with “Buy The Stars” where she talks about someone who puts her on a pedestal and tries to use her to be his light. But he is in the dark and she refuses to be pulled into it. He thinks he knows her, but she does not buy him trying to trick her into being his.
For she had been alone all her life, so she does not want to be owned by him. She would rather he faces his darkness and stop buying stars. I think many people can relate to the closing song. The album closes off with a sweet harmony by Marina.
Worth mentioning is “How To Be A Heartbreaker”, which can be found on the deluxe version of Electra Heart. She sings in an almost nonchalant voice. It is a song about someone who has even played so many times that they ended up becoming a player instead of being guanine.
Overall, the entire album is gold. It is a rollercoaster of existential crisis, what it means to find yourself and the true meaning of love. Here is an album that can touch anyone. Marina truly outdid herself with Electra Heart.
MARINA’s Electra Heart turns 10-years old this month, listen to it below and purchase it here.
Words by Melisa Nyamukondiwa