Marnie – Strange Words and Weird Wars
Helen Marnie's second album is a pointed reminder that, given time to develop their identity, artists on sabbatical just might fashion an enriched output: a win-win situation for both them and their audience. The Ladytron singer's 2013 debut Crystal World was a compelling electro adventure whose striving hinted at riches to come. And here they are. Strange Words and Weird Wars is deeply accomplished avant-pop: an artful and advanced enterprise. Marnie crams her developing songbook with a multitide of melodies and a lyrical acumen to match.
Aware that the very best dance pop sows a thread of melancholy between the beats, she confronts this delicious paradox head on. For every exquisitely sorrowful ballad (Summer Boys is a next-gen revision of Madonna's Live To Tell), there is a clear-sighted take on the madness of the world around us (Lost Maps and its 'Is someone out there looking for you?' refrain, inspired in part by the plight of Syrian refugees). It retains its hold throughout and, once the tunes have planted their hooks, take time to consider the voice: something often passed over. At its best, as on the head-spinning chorus of Little Knives, it adds drama to the whole, every line delivered almost as a secret disclosed in confidence: little intrigues that hint at the dark underbelly.
Listen to: Heartbreak Kid, Little Knives