Hatkirby on December 28th, 2012 at 8:27:09pm
I'm going to be a little cruel, today. You will not be able to easily obtain the album I'm about to discuss. It's also a little amusing to call it my third favorite album of 2012 because not only was it not released it 2012, but it in fact wasn't released at all. Around June of this year, a stir shook the Marina & the Diamonds fanbase when someone discovered a secret album, an album older than Mermaid vs. Sailor (the self-recorded EP she made 70 copies of and gave out at concerts before she was even on a record label), an album hidden from the world for years until it somehow leaked. I am talking, of course, of the one and only Give Me The Money.
Give Me The Money is Marina in her rawest form, it exudes her strange outlook on things and, sadly, her depression, that had been much more noticeable back in the day when she was still performing Are You Satisfied? in bars and she called herself Marina & the Diamonds even though she had no diamonds[1. Diamonds, of course, being the name of her fans.]. Therefore, this album may be a little hard to take in, especially for a first time Marina listener. In fact, if you haven't listened to Marina before, I would suggest you step back and listen to The Family Jewels a few thousand times before trying this masterpiece.
The first track is Starlight, a familiar name to a hardcore Marina fan. A demo by the name of Starlight has been available on the internet for a while now, but this version of the song is much more stripped back and raw. Marina's heavily equalized voice cries over an expertly played piano, comparing lost love to the light of a dead star. You'll find that Marina is quite the queen of comparison on this record; the next track, my favorite, is called The Common Cold and after a chorus of sneezes ushers you in, Marina hits you with a zinger: "There is no known cure for the common cold." The most emphatic verses ever combine with the saddest chorus ever to spin a comparison between heartbreak, and that one common, incurable disease. Heavier production could not do it justice; the audio clipping simply enhances the pain in Marina's voice.
Love isn't the only topic this fledgling singer has opinions on. Supermodel's Legs (the precursor to Electra Heart's Teen Idle) wonders how society can get away with its hegemonic ideals of beauty when in reality, no one can live up to them, and Lonely Bones backs it up by arguing that the fakeness that people imbibe into their bodies (e.g. collagen) won't travel with them after they die. The former track is upbeat and angsty, the latter, sad and ominous.
It's clear that society's got Marina down, however. In her most telling song, Happy Meal, Marina says she feels like a happy meal trying to get noticed in a crowd of steak. She sings about the tendency toward self-destruction, preferring to help others, and the ease of judgement, and in this way, it is a very relatable song. This simple, raw, piano ballad exudes the fears that she covers up on The Family Jewels, where she cries that success is all she needs. Once again, the format enhances the art, and the rough quality makes it even more moving. This is not an album to be taken lightly.
There are so many other standout tracks, such as Perfect-oh, a cheery cry for help buried in obsessive-compulsion, Hubba, a repetitive ditty about leaving bubblegum in your mouth overnight which I theorize is a metaphor for suicide, and Hot, Cross Bun, a mysterious but incredibly catchy song about a pregnant mother being denied the food she needs to live. This really is one of the most personal and moving albums I've ever heard, and it just radiates that style and that meaning that resonates within me and which makes me love Marina & the Diamonds so much. This album was never meant to see the light of day, but it leaked and I enjoy it so much. This is the one album, however, that I cannot recommend you listen to. It is a masterpiece, and it is very dear to me, but it is not casual listening material. Someday, you may be ready to get the money, and when you are, it'll change your entire life.