There are very few artists who create as thoughtfully as Marina Diamandis, formerly Marina and the Diamonds. “I am here to take a look inside myself,” she confides on the title track, sleekly propulsive electropop with a cheering message of self-acceptance. The self-loathing of Electra Heart, the 2012 concept album she addressed to the worst parts of herself, is banished, as are the many romantic imbroglios of 2019’s Love + Fear. What’s inside Marina today is deep concern for women and the world outside, and her best songs couple the personal and the political.
The music is pleasantly accessible, rather than daring, although you could imagine legendary producer Trevor Horn remixing Venus Fly Trap’s elegant take on 80s synth funk. Lyrically, it’s brimming with bristling ambition. Man’s World’s first two verses breezily link the Salem witch trials and 18th-century painter François Boucher with Marilyn Monroe and hypocritical, homophobic autocrats. Pandora’s Box may be a collection of limp balladeer cliches, yet it follows the bruising New America, her savage rebuke of the failure of the States. Anti-misogyny manifesto pop could easily become clumsy and overwrought, but the joy Marina invests into her mannered, quasi-operatic delivery makes sedition sound seductive.