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Pop - Released April 26, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

Shedding the "and the Diamonds" appendage of her stage name, Welsh pop maven Marina emerged from a self-imposed four-year absence to unveil a revitalized approach on her fourth album, Love + Fear. Stepping into the spotlight without the protection of her former moniker, she reveals a renewed confidence and tempered optimism, shedding some of the quirkiness and cheek of her early efforts, while moving past 2015's lackluster Froot. Following the difficult promotion of that album, Marina was worn out and considered quitting music. She retreated to recalculate life, studying developmental psychology -- a process she describes in "Handmade Heaven" -- and shedding the Diamonds to be herself. Alongside producers Joel Little, OzGo, Sam de Jong, and others, she crafted a double-album concept presented as complementary sides reflecting the two base emotions (according to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross). Kicking off the album with Love, Marina embraces optimism and peace with joyous dance-pop cuts and feel-good anthems packed with enough lyrical life mantras to fill a gallery's worth of affirmative self-help posters. Even on existential ruminations "To Be Human" and "End of the Earth," the purity of Marina's wonder helps pull some clunky "We Are the World"-esque lyrics from drowning in corny sentimentality. Most of the album's standouts reside in this first half, such as the shimmering "Handmade Heaven" and the pulsing "Superstar." Marina's irresistible Latin-kissed hit "Baby" -- a collaboration with Clean Bandit and Luis Fonsi -- slides comfortably into the mix, while the insightful "Enjoy Your Life" empowers with a motivating message that finds Marina sharing her positive headspace with listeners who might need this aural pep talk. Hopping over to Fear, she delves deeper into the troubled thoughts and anxieties that bubbled beneath Love's sparkling surface. "Believe in Love" sounds like a Reputation-era Taylor Swift song, a bittersweet heartbreaker that pairs twinkling piano and a mid-tempo beat with the sentiment that "losing you is what I'm afraid of." "Life Is Strange" prolongs the inner turmoil as Marina admits "[I] don't know what I'm doing with my life" before concluding "all we know is life is strange" with quirky production that echoes her Family Jewels sound. These songs are a bit lyrically heavy for pop, but they remain catchy enough to dance and groove through the gloom, especially on the Broods-featuring "Emotional Machine," a throbbing club track that eschews the rest of this half's by-the-numbers approach (which falls somewhere between Swift and Ellie Goulding). By the time Marina reaches her big cathartic moment on album closer "Soft to be Strong," she's realized "when love is lost, it's only fear in disguise" and resolves that "love has to be soft to be strong." As the first offering of a new stage in her career, Love + Fear not only reveals its creator as newly hopeful, but it also gives hope that future efforts might be carved in a similar fashion. Marina's Electra heart still beats, it's just pumping smoother and with a confidence born from a renewed and mature perspective. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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Pop - Released February 8, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

Pop - Released April 4, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released March 16, 2015 | Neon Gold - Elektra

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Pop - Released April 30, 2012 | Elektra (NEK)

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 15, 2010 | Chop Shop - Atlantic

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Pop - Released March 22, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released March 1, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released April 19, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 15, 2010 | Chop Shop - Atlantic

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2018 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released March 8, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released April 30, 2012 | Elektra (NEK)

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Pop - Released April 4, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released January 1, 1980 | Universal Music International Ltda.

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Pop - Released April 4, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released April 4, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released April 4, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop - Released November 11, 2014 | Default Presentation Label

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1964 | Elite Special