There’s no doubt MARINA, real name Marina Diamandis, has been dealing with a bit of an identity crisis the last few years since changing gears from her previous stage name, Marina and the Diamonds. Rising to fame among Tumblr teens and pop music fans who appreciated her dark, eccentric, and confessional songs, Marina was on track to becoming a new type of pop star that the radio-friendly sounds of the early 2010s just weren’t quite ready for.
But after the critical acclaim from her fresh 2015 LP, Froot, Diamandis took a hiatus from music, only to make a comeback in 2019 with a new stage name (“MARINA”) and the lukewarmly received record Love + Fear. Two years later, Marina returns with the mythologizing, whimsical, and genuinely fun Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land.
Ancient Dreams is a return to form for those who missed the erratic, funky, and unsubtle energy from 2010’s The Family Jewels. The songs are fast and vibrant, backed up by jumpy piano or pop-rock bands, but they’re no longer just focusing on Marina’s personal problems. In “Purge The Poison,” she calls out society’s horrific treatment of Britney Spears, as well as Harvey Weinstein, global warming, capitalism, and pandemic lockdowns. It’s dizzying stuff, but Diamandis is pissed and has many reasons to be. “I’ve been a mother to everyone else, to every motherfucker except myself,” she yells with conviction in the shimmering closing track “Goodbye.”
The most positive difference in Ancient Dreams compared to her previous works is that Diamandis seems to no longer feel depressed about her lost identity. Here, she thrives in the chaos and confusion of modern life. “I am here to take a look inside myself,” she sings on the title track. “Recognize that I could be the eye, the eye of the storm.”
It’s a welcome resurgence for those who loved her early work, and an intriguing step forward in her pop journey.