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Album Review

Marina and the Diamonds, 'The Family Jewels'

May 24, 2010

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In the first song on Marina and the Diamonds’ first full-length, Welsh singer Marina Diamandis announces that she’s not going to be hemmed in by averageness. “The Family Jewels’’ works so hard to avoid that fate that Diamandis seems to fragment herself into a thousand shards in the hope that multiplicity equals complexity. It’s an overstuffed explosion of ideas, from warped synth-pop to Kate Bush-style drama to Regina Spektor-ish piano quirk, sung in a voice that marries the burnished luster of Katy Perry with the same heavy-jawed diction as Florence and the Machine. But where someone like Kate Nash explores her many sides over the course of an entire album, Diamandis crams them all into every song. There’s not much variety as a result, despite a wide range of ingredients, and while it’s possible that liking one song could mean liking them all, it’s best to focus on a single track. The tuneful and yearning (though still soaring) “I Am Not a Robot’’ is as good as any, though whether she’s human and not simply an empty collection of mechanical parts has yet to be determined. (Out tomorrow)

MARC HIRSH

ESSENTIAL “I Am Not a Robot’’