The album of the moment for me is Marina & the Diamonds The Family Jewels. I think it’s kind of hilarious that within the past year or so there have been two acts to come out of the United Kingdom with a woman’s name and her non-existent band. Though, as Marina says, she’s Marina and we’re the diamonds. I’m a diamond, everyone, I am most certainly a diamond. This is not the real post of the day, I’m working on that one, this is a sidebar; and it goes something like this:
I first heard of Marina & the Diamonds a couple of months ago because they were advertised on my UK MySpace page (yes I have the settings set to UK, no real idea why). I liked the stuff I heard but I wasn’t sold until I heard the whole album. There’s nothing amazing here. This is a pop album. Perhaps more pop than Marina herself would like to admit. But for some reason I seem to be relating to pretty much every single song. So here we are, my life by Marina.
1) Are You Satisfied?
No. Not really at the moment, no. It would be hard to be satisfied when my life feels all but average lately. But, things feel like they are looking up, perhaps it’s the Spring. I don’t care what it is but I’ve been sort of incandescently happy lately despite some shit that’s been flying through my brain too quickly to process. My life will not be average. Already I have had incredible experiences and I know I’ll have more of them. Stagnation can only be temporary. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The lyrics to this one are a bit more inane that I would have liked, but clearly it’s raison d’etre is the beat. It’s dancey. Wonderfully so in my humble opinion. And… well, even if they are inane I still relate. It bring to mind lonely nights where you have pretty much two choices, go to sleep or get wasted alone. I’ve always been a believer that drinking alone, well more than a few, leads to alcoholism. Eh, I do it anyway. Not often, but enough. And I have ridiculous tastes. I like sugary things and fun concoctions. I used to be a wine drinker but somehow I got sick of it. I still love champagne. Though I am not a huge fan of brute. I like asti. Which, arguably is Italian sparkling but I am not here for semantics. I don’t know if all this is what the song is about but I don’t care about that either. That’s what this song means to me.
3) I Am Not A Robot
If there is any song on this album that I’d like to dedicate to someone this is the one. But it reminds me of myself too. Actually, this might be the one that rings to what I’ve been feeling lately more than any other song of the album. I… have trouble getting close to people. There are reasons for this, many of which could probably have benefited from therapy throughout my life, but since I refuse I do a lot of self analysis. Sometimes it spews forth towards others and makes me feel unbelievably annoying, whether I really am or not. I also don’t want to stay in one place. So making connections with people I will more than likely leave at some point is not something I strive towards. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. I’m not going to air my dirty laundry, even though I am sure that would make me more popular as it’s probably more entertaining, but I will say this. I don’t like feeling vulnerable, it scares me to death. I have always been responsible for my own happiness and have no one to blame by myself, so when I hand that over I tend to well, for lack of a better term, freak out. Over the past year it’s ranged from random outbursts of crying, withdrawing in on myself, becoming exceedingly depressed, saying pretty much everything that’s on my mind and holding on far too tight. I’m just not very good at it. But I really really want to be. I was proud of myself earlier in the year when I pulled myself out of my crippling depression and made a solid resolution to buck up, I’m just afraid it was too late for some things. I often say that I don’t need anyone. I think that’s true. The thing is though, I want them. Saying I’m not vulnerable doesn’t mean that I’m not, it just means that I’m hiding the fact from myself. And breaking your own heart hurts just as much as if someone did it for you.
There are bits and pieces of this one that say different things to me. I think, in general, it’s about how girls are a bit petty and care about things that the singer doesn’t particularly care about. I only half relate. There are a lot of things about me that are sort of… guy like. I like comics and action movies; I don’t feel the need to show my emotions to many people, I don’t do a lot of stereotypical ‘girl’ things. But, I think that’s true of enough girls that there’s really no such thing as ‘girl’ things. I’m not a girl who doesn’t get along with other girls; I think those people are mostly psychos. And the type of girl that Marina seems to be talking about in the song is certainly not my type. But it also leaves me wondering about the females in Marina Diamandis’ life. Just… find some other friends. But yeah, there are these girls. Girls, me not excluded, are catty. They are conniving. They know what they want and they will fight to get it, but they won’t do it obviously. Even if they don’t think they are.
5) Mowgli’s Road
I think this is a bit about indecision. If you take it literally as referring to Kipling’s novel then you can easily see it as teetering between two worlds, civilized and uncivilized. But I am not in The Jungle Book I was not raised by animals. I do, however, know a bit about indecision. There are a lot of choices that I have made throughout my life, like anyone, that have brought me to where I am right now. I can’t help, actually quite often, traveling back in my head to those key points and trying to figure how things would have been different if I had made the choice that I now see probably would have been the right one. For example; when I was applying for colleges I was planning on being a Theatre major. I wanted to act. It was what I did in high school and I was ready to take that journey. So I went around the country auditioning for different schools. I didn’t get into the places I really wanted to go so I had a choice in front of me: Otterbein, in Westerville, OH (where I incidentally ended up living several years later) had accepted me, but not into their drama department. I could go there and be an English major. I said no. I went to Ohio State where I was a Theatre major for one year before I changed my major to English. I’m shy, the school was too big for me, and I did not succeed. I wonder what would have happened if I had gone to the smaller school where I wouldn’t have gotten lost in the shuffle. My life could have been so vastly different. I try not to dwell, cause… what’s the point. But everyday I make new mistakes, as everyone does, and I can’t stop myself from going and analyzing every one of them.
This song makes me think of all the weird little things in people’s lives, and how they affect the whole. I have said several times to various people; everyone is a little bit crazy. I am not talking certifiable; I am not even talking about publicly. There are always going to be strange hang-ups you have about people. Private things that don’t come out right away, like breaking bread into tiny chunks rather than slicing it or eating a jar of pine nuts rather than taking the time to make a sandwich. The little things people do that you know are ridiculously weird and might even annoy you a little bit. Everyone has them. Everyone is crazy. It’s really about finding the sort of crazy that works for you.
This song is the current single from this record so for some reason it’s not something I take as personally. It certainly has a message that I agree with; vapid consumerism and obsession with things that don’t really matter like celebrities. But the problem with me is that I really do love all that stuff. I really love guilty pleasures. I listen to Britney Spears for god’s sake. I am not saying that I take it as seriously as some do, I can see through it, realize that it’s not important. That of course celebrities fill their gas tanks the same as everyone. It’s sort of my problem with celebrity crushes too. I seldom have them; because I don’t really know the person and I am not the type who can look at someone and say ‘Hot!’ when I don’t know their personality. And of course now everyone is a celebrity. All you have to do is have some sort of crazy family and it seems you can get a reality show. That sort of stuff doesn’t interest me. Now… Gossip Girl on the other hand…
8 ) The Outsider
As you can probably guess from the title this song is about being outside of the social norm. I think that Marina, here, is probably seeing this as a good thing. A good portion of the album seems to be about the insipidness of society and what society cares about. But I am not so sure it’s a good thing. I’ve always sort of observed the world, possibly so that I didn’t have to really live in it. It wasn’t always this way, it started in college. While I was never popular or hugely outgoing I was nowhere near as introverted as I got my Freshman year of college. I found myself somewhat crippled at the idea of meeting all these people, finding those I had something in common with, and starting over again. I thought it might be better if it was just me. Sheltered in my room, listening to Simon & Garfunkel. I never really got over it. I have my friends, but I don’t make new ones easily. I know that those who get to know me seem to like me, but I have a hard time getting to that point. But lately, I have not been satisfied being on the outside looking in, I want a little more.
9) Hermit the Frog
This… makes me think a lot of things. I think that there’s a reason there’s the saying ‘opposites attract’ even though I think it’s ridiculous. Most of the people I like in life are the people who like things that I like too. I think this is true of most people. I think those are the kind of people we gravitate towards because; well… you have things in common. But then, of course, I have watched this opposites attract thing in action more than a few times. Mostly it doesn’t work out like it does in movies, but sometimes it gets close enough. In general, I think it’s best for people to look for qualities and likes that are shared, but sometimes it’s a little combustible. Sometimes people are a little too alike and it doesn’t turn out the way they thought it would. Where the next step lies is the question that’s not answered.
10) Oh No!
This is another sort of dancey one, and currently one of my favorite tracks. I think it’s pretty clear in what it’s about. But then again, there are always a million interpretations of a million things. I know what it’s like to know exactly what I want I who I want to be. Most of the time I know what this is like. Sometimes I get confused, I start believing that I can’t do all those things I’ve thought of through my life. Those times always pass. Getting older I have rescinded a lot of that. I understand needing to stay in one place, to have some sort of home base. I understand needing people around you. But it wasn’t always that way. I think I have covered this plenty already.
This is sort of like what I said earlier about not wanting to stay in one place. And like I already said I am starting to understand the need for roots. However, there is still something I love so much in being rootless. My friend, D, is like this too. Last year he called me up and told me he was in Riverside. It took me a moment before I understood he meant California. He pretty much couch surfed for months. I couldn’t really ever take advantage of anyone’s hospitality like that. But I know the feeling. Traveling is one of my favorite things, and one of the only things where I truly feel like myself. A few years ago I went to visit camp over the summer and visited around on the way home. I didn’t really have a plan as to when I was going to return home and that feeling was the most liberating one I’ve ever had. The same was true when I was in Europe. I was alone, I had no restraints but a flight home at the end of the month. I could go anywhere for however long I wanted. It’s also the reason I like to explore every nook and cranny of wherever I am living. I just love wandering.
I sort of wish this where a song I didn’t relate to in any way, but I do. I feel stuck a lot of the time. I think if you are reading this blog you know that I hate my job. I makes me feel pretty worthless. I work hard and there is no pay off at all. I know that it’s temporary, but I have been looking for over a year now and haven’t gotten anything else, at this point I’m not even looking to move up, I will settle for sideway. I feel trapped by my lack of money, I feel trapped by the confines of my life. I do know it will get better, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that. It also touches on the lack of connection to anyone. I’ve already talked about that, but sometimes I have a lot of trouble with the people I have left behind, never to be seen again, in the paths my life has taken. I will never know what happened to that guy, Paul, who I met and hung out with in Amsterdam. Knowing there are people from my past littered across the world is a daunting thought sometimes.
This… is the only song on this album that I really can’t apply to my own life. I wont even try it.
It’s been a long time since I’ve found something that felt as poignant as this album for a particular chapter of my life, but here it is. I’m so far from perfect, I guess in some ways it’s nice to know that there is someone who’s writing songs about how imperfect she is too. But then again, who wants to be perfect? Perfect is so boring. Flaws are what make people people, flaws are what make them interesting. This album is poppy. Well, I’m a little poppy too, I guess. I know someone who is convinced we’re not unique little snowflakes. That phrase is awful. I couldn’t ever compare a human being to a piece of frozen water that will melt away but in so many ways I do not share his sentiment. People are unique. There’s nothing about anyone that makes them more special than anyone else, and perhaps this is what he meant by the comment, but there’s no one on the Earth who has made the same choices as I have, and I am the sum of my parts. I am me because of what I have done and what I have felt and who I have met. That’s all it takes to be unique. The evaporation I am not looking forward to quite as much.
I think this album is this year’s It’s Blitz by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It was Spring, I was gravitating towards the water and thus my favorite spot, Wendy Park, the latest series of Skins had just ended and I was deserperately willing away winter by wearing flip flops too early. I wanted things to be a bit blurry around the edges, and then there was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ latest album just waiting for me. Marina Diamandis might have accomplished the same thing for me with The Family Jewels.