Album: Marina and the Diamonds, The Family Jewels (679 Recordings)

Angst pop for kids – see you next year at the Brit Awards
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The Independent Culture

Graeco-Cambrian pop princess Marina Diamandis is not one for mystery and deception when directness and transparency are so much easier.

For example, in her 24 years, the Abergavenny-born singer has clearly listened to a lot of Dresden Dolls. The opening track of her debut album, "Are You Satisfied?", with its staccato pianos and melodramatised neuroses, has an unmistakeable flavour of the Dolls' "Girl Anachronism" about it, albeit a somewhat dumbed-down, entry-level version.

Marina's far from the only British artist drawing heavily on Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione's inspirational double act – there's Rosie and the Goldbug and Doll and the Kicks, to name but two – but it seems the industry has decreed that Diamandis is the anointed one, judging by her runners-up spot in the BBC's Sound of 2010 poll, so the only option is to sit back and watch her inevitable procession to next year's Brit Awards.

For those of us who've sussed her sources, there's almost something charming about how blatantly she wears her influences on her sleeve. But it's her taste for the bleeding obvious which, ultimately, holds her back from greatness. You may, for example, be familiar with "Hollywood" thanks to the heavy rotation of its video, featuring Marina dressed as a cheerleader or wearing the Stars and Stripes. Because it's set in America, you see.

It's this kind of route-one thinking which reins in The Family Jewels, even if that song does feature a cracking this-is-Phil-talking moment in the lines "Oh my God, you look just like Shakira/ No wait, it's Catherine Zeta/ Actually, my name's Marina..." Similarly, the song about being an outsider is called "The Outsider". The song about being rootless is called "Rootless". The song about feeling numb is called... OK, you're ahead of me.

There's something going on here, a modicum of life-of-the-mind, but Marina's a stranger to guile, intrigue or mystery. Once or twice she actually thinks outside the box, raising hopes that there's more to her than a Hazel O'Connor meets Alanis Morissette persona. But that will have to wait till album two. The Family Jewels is Angst-Pop for Kids. It ends with a song about feeling guilty. It's called "Guilty".

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