We - collectively, as a planet - don’t deserve Marina. Or if we do, we certainly do not appreciate her enough. Three albums of interesting, personality-focused pop music that always had Big Ideas behind them should, in any right-thinking universe, have made her a household name. While she’s hardly a shrinking flower in the ‘profile’ stakes, it’s still far from enough.
But not this time. This time, she means business. Shedding her ‘and the Diamonds’ postfix, Marina is blossoming into the perfect present-day pop icon. Personas and protective shields cast aside, ‘Love + Fear’ is one of the best in the game at her most open and honest.
A two-part album - ‘Love’ and, quite obviously ‘Fear’ - there’s a crystal clarity to Marina two-or-three-or-possibly- four-point-oh. While the obvious path would lead to a juxtaposition of light and shade, Marina is smarter than that. Yes, the second half does deal with more weighty emotion, but musically it never descends into the murky darkness, every difficult moment of introspection refusing to dwell. ‘No More Suckers’ is more of a fightback bop than a defeated lament, while ‘Soft To Be Strong’ revels in Marina’s sharp as glass falsetto. Even in its slowest moments, there’s a swell of defiance.
‘Love’, on the other hand, is where the big moments dwell. Packing most of the pre-release offerings, as well as recent Clean Bandit team-up ‘Baby’, it’s an assertively sugar-sweet collection. ‘True’ shimmers with possibility, while ‘To Be Human’ might glance at some of the more difficult aspects of modern life, but finds unity in confusion.
If anything, ‘Love + Fear’ feels like a clean slate for Marina. She’s not cast aside the things that made her great, but rather refused to compromise her vision any longer. As one of the most intriguing creative pop forces of the past decade, it’s a smart move. There’s lots to love and little to fear here.