Eerie like Kurt Weill one moment, uplifting like Abba the next, Marina Diamandis’s pop-artful debut album, The Family Jewels (Chop Shop/Atlantic Records, to be released May 25), documents the 24-year-old Greek-Welsh Londoner’s relentless pursuit of fame with savagely self-aware wit. “I was pulling out my hair / The day I cut the deal / Chemically calm,” Diamandis sings on the album’s opener, “Are You Satisfied?,” her theatrically supernatural vocals front and center. Diamandis, who performs under the moniker Marina And The Diamonds, embarked on her unabashed quest for stardom when she was in her late teens; she scoured Madonna biographies for tips and even auditioned in drag for a boy band. “I don’t want to say I was delusional, but I was fearless,” Diamandis explains. “For so long, the essence of my existence was my obsession with making it. I cringe when I say that, but I can’t lie. Then I figured out I didn’t want to be Britney Spears—I wanted to challenge people.” Indeed, in songs like “Hollywood” and “I Am Not a Robot,” arch musings informed by feminism, psychology, and an outsider’s fascination with American mythology are arranged around radio-ready hooks. “The currency of provocation right now is all about being sexy, but I’m just bored with it,” she says. “I want to provoke people with thoughts, not by taking my clothes off. It’s time to move on from Stripperville.”
Photo: Marina Diamandis in New York, March 2010. Coat: Christian Dior. Bracelet: Aandra. Cuff: Alexis Bittar. Cosmetics: Clé de peau Beauté, including Intensifying Cream Eyeliner in #101. Fragrance: Midnight Poison by Dior. Styling: Sarah Ellison/Streeters. Hair: Franco Gobbi for Redken/Art Department. Makeup: Osvaldo Salvatierra/Streeters.
Follow Marina and The Diamonds on Twitter at twitter.com/Marinasdiamonds