Marina Diamandis's music doesn't really sound like fellow British art-pop musician Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes, but they're following oddly close career paths. Both broke with debut albums acclaimed enough to land midlist on people's yearly roundups, and both were saddled with enough "quirky" synonyms to fill a few thesaurus pages. Then, both planned concept albums with alter egos--Pearl for Bat for Lashes' Two Suns, Electra Heart for Marina's Electra Heart: The Start--both of which were the artists' blonde, fame-corrupt opposites. Both were then gently-to-harshly chided for being pretentious or confusing, as if a concept album was something novel and out of the reach of lowly singer-songwriters, and as if both albums (Marina's especially) hadn't been criticized for being sonically scattered.
Two tracks have now been released, with a third to come possibly by the end of the year. The first track, "Fear and Loathing," is as slow and stately as we've heard from Marina to date and will be an album track. The second, "Radioactive," was produced by Stargate, and it sounds exactly like that implies. If that wasn't enough to rile people up, she's also been working with Dr. Luke. Oh dear.
Fans are already complaining about Marina doing "dance music" (read: chart pop), as if that's an unqualified evil. They're fans, so they're qualifying their statement with "...but I hope she gets back to herself!" but still. And critics, as we've seen, aren't allowing her the concept. Marina, to her credit, is aware of all this--in the Popjustice interview, she said: "If I’d sat in my bedroom and carried on as I was because I thought that equalled credibility, I don’t think I would have produced a good album."
Is Stargate enough to give Marina the traction The Family Jewels never fully got? For every La Roux and Ellie Goulding, who belatedly cross over, there are people like Little Boots who doesn't, despite sound and names. Marina also said "Radioactive" wasn't meant as a lead single or even for her possible album, but it could be one if she wanted to go that route. It's really hard to know what to make of all this. One thing gets lost, though: that "Radioactive" is genuinely listenable, and Stargate smoothing out the sometimes-distracting catches in Marina's voice is a surprisingly good look. Good luck if anyone notices.