It’s been close to three years since the release of Marina and the Diamonds’ sophomore record Electra Heart, a polarizing concept album about female archetypes. With Diamandis’ third album, FROOT, she forgoes listening to the input from others to deliver a tight 12 song set that she co-produced with Bat For Lashes producer David Kosten. The resulting product is her most sonically cohesive effort to date and depicts the maturing songwriter’s state of mind throughout her hiatus.
Album opener “Happy” begins with a dry vocal that’s accompanied by a piano as the lyrics play off the forlorn atmosphere (Couldn’t relax, couldn’t sit back / and let the sunlight in my lap.) While the first verse doesn’t sound like the title would suggest; the stacked harmonies that come in towards the end of the second verse establish a more optimistic tone. It’s an interesting choice to start the album with since the campaign has been full of bright, neon colors; however it works as a good lead-in to the disco title track “Froot.”
Although “Happy” appears to be the most introspective track on the record based on a topical listen, “Gold” is truly the show runner from a thematic point of view. In a recent interview, she mentioned this song was written during her opening run for Coldplay. Perhaps she didn’t intend for the track to be interpreted as her internal conflict regarding how Electra Heart was initially perceived, but it certainly comes across as such with the lyrics “I’ve been waiting for the penny to drop / I’ve been working to get back what I lost / But whatever happens I’ll be okay.”
Farther along in the album is “Solitaire,” and it’s easily one of the best tracks on the album. Dissonant sonar blips set the stage for the deeper end of her range; this time slightly reverberated and filtered to appear like it’s coming from an old fashioned radio. The title itself is a play on the definition of the word “solitaire” as Diamandis juxtaposes the feeling of singularity in first verse (Don’t wanna talk anymore / I’m obsessed with silence / I go home and I lock my door / I can hear the sirens) against the uniqueness of a diamond in the chorus. The minimalist approach to the song builds to its bridge as the blips combine into cascading synth sparkles.
The second to last track “Savages” is a cliché – by her standards — musical approach to showing her disdain for how human treat one another, but she considers it to be the most important song on the album. It contains the same snarky mentality as other songs in her back catalog like “Girls” and “Hermit the Frog” with far less metaphorical imagery. The song’s saving grace is the fourth verse which concludes with “I’m not afraid of God / I’m afraid of man” after listing off the animalistic ways in which humans interact with one another.
With this record, Marina has nothing to prove to her fans and critics because they already know what she’s capable of producing. Instead, FROOT is an inside look into the alternative pop artist’s mind as she confronts her dislike for her last record and wants to strip everything back down to the essentials. As Diamandis sings in the title track “Good things come to those who wait / but I ain’t in a patient phase,” the finished product truly shows what happens when an artist is left to their own devices and achieves a true moment of self-realization.