Marina is back with a new moniker and new double album that showcases the amount of growth she has experienced since 2015’s Froot. Since publicly dropping “And The Diamonds” from her stage name, Marina has worked to effectively shed the highly memorable personas of her past eras including the over saturated pop image of Electra Heart and the loudly dynamic presentation of her debut, The Family Jewels. Love + Fear allows Marina to strip back the weighted production to make this era focused on an authentic presentation of what Marina has learned since the last time we heard from her.
The first half, Love, being released just under a month before the rest of the collection, showcases Marina in a vulnerable light we haven’t seen her completely step into before. She has clearly found freedom and joy in letting herself rediscover her love for music, and its audible in the handful of singles released prior to the rest of the album.
Marina has let her guard down and for the first time shares tracks that touch on some of the more personal aspects of her life. “Orange Trees,” a track where she reminisces about her roots as a Greek woman, sounds as warm and sunny as the time Marina spent sitting by the orange trees.
“Baby,” the collaboration with Luis Fonsi that signaled the return of Marina to the pop world, is weirdly tucked into the middle of Love. It’s catchy and technically fits the theme of Love, being about pining for an old flame.
The latter half of Love takes on a more serious tone sonically and ground the listener with themes that are more timely, such as the shared experiences of people all over the world who we might never encounter. While many of the lyrics are simplistic and don’t require much over thinking, Marina has crafted a body of work filled with messages of self love and happiness. The joy behind this half of the collection is immediately recognizable and while not many of the tracks are instantly memorable the first few listens, as a Marina fan you can’t help but feel glad that she is putting out work she is proud of. The sonic palate is very cohesive until the last couple tracks, taking on a darker tone as a soft transition into the themes of Fear.
While the first half of Love + Fear is light and uncomplicated, there isn’t much to grab onto. Much of Fear works to remedy that with lyrics that thematically gravitate more towards the Marina that we are more familiar with. Fear holds more sonically diverse tracks that examine the way we all operate on fear (of change, the people that hold us back, etc.). “Karma” harkens back to the latin infused melody of “Baby” is a track about how bad behavior will catch up to you.
While her guard is up in Fear and Marina uses more metaphoric language, the lyricism of Fear holds a more interesting dialogue. Glimmers of Marina and the Diamonds can be found in “Emotional Machine,” where Diamandis plays with vocals that simulate the whirring of a machine. The track shows the clear transition from Froot to Fear + Love and easily could have served as a bonus track on a deluxe version of the previous album.
The final track “Soft To Be Strong” encapsulates the theme of Love + Fear: thestrength that can be found in revealing your vulnerabilities. While Marina crafted this double album to hold individual themes on each side, many of the tracks on either side of the album could be exchanged and the clear divide she was trying to define isn’t very clear.
What sets this collection apart from Marina’s previous works is that her songs have always been very dependent on imagery and specific descriptions of emotion whereas the bulk of this album feels like a generalization of the themes. Part of what is exciting about Marina as an artist is her willingness to explore themes beyond the surface to the point where many would be concerned with being overly verbose. Overall, this body of workfails to take any risks sonically and for the most part this end up making the lack of exploration lyrically blatantly obvious. While Love + Fear can sit comfortably on the same shelf as the myriad of self-care oriented pop coming out in 2019, it’s not one that will be reached for first.