When we’re fearful, we tend to pull away, hide and dwell in insecurity. When we love, we express ourselves and open our hearts. MARINA explores these contrasting feelings with her fourth studio album, “LOVE + FEAR.”
For MARINA, 12 tracks felt wrong. It couldn’t encapsulate the two themes she felt strongly about. She settled on 16 and separated them into two collections based on love and fear.
“This felt very natural, universal [and] simple to me, and that’s why I called it love and fear,” MARINA wrote on Genius.
Opening with “Handmade Heaven,” MARINA dwells on a time when she felt “out of sync and lost in the world.” With a steady beat, echoey, longing voice and strong harmonies, she sings “I carry along a feel of unease / I want to belong like the birds in the trees.” She turns to nature to seek peace and contemplates on its simplicity.
“Superstar” takes a sharp turn from these uncertain thoughts and captivates the listener with a synth-driven, danceable but intimate love song. Lyrics like “When I’m afraid, when the world’s gone dark / Come and save my day, you’re my superstar” aren’t too special, but when paired with its electronic instrumental, it easily stands out from the generic pop genre.
MARINA’s Greek heritage is brought up in “Orange Trees,” the perfect jam for a hot day on the beach. With a hint of acoustic guitar in the background and colorful lyrics, “Flowers in my hair, I belong by the sea / Where we used to be, sittin’ by the orange trees,” the music easily creates images of a tropical paradise far from city streets.
“Baby,” featuring Luis Fonsi, showcases an upbeat rhythm with a Latin groove, but the lyrics — some in Spanish — are melancholic and bitter. It demonstrates an interesting duality. This message of helplessness and injustice is heard through lyrics like “My heart’s like a rubber band / And it’s such a shame / You’ll always be the one who got away.”
“Enjoy Your Life” is a track every college student needs to hear. It’s a song that relates to anyone who can’t understand where they’re meant to be. MARINA wrote it while she was dealing with anxiety and depression. It’s uplifting and hopeful with lyrics like “Sit back and enjoy your problems / You don’t always have to solve them / ‘Cause your worst days, they are over / So enjoy your life.”
For MARINA, “To Be Human” is the most important song on the record. Listing locations all around the world — from Kyoto to Chicago — she sings about the human experience, saying everyone is trying to understand it despite cultural differences. The chorus envelopes the listener in light piano chords and MARINA’s strong vocals. She sings, “All the people living in, living in the world today / We’re united by our love, we’re united by our pain.” It’s about celebrating unity despite today’s political climate.
Without a doubt, the deepest love song of the record is “End of the Earth.” The instrumental is ambient, emotional and paired perfectly with lyrics that describe the risks people take to be in love. MARINA acknowledges the significance of existing at the same time in the same universe as another person, singing “I’ll love you ’til the end of the Earth.”
Featuring violins and a wide range of vocals, “Life Is Strange” is a catchy track that reiterates the theme of fear and how every person experiences it in similar ways. In MARINA’s point of view, people are more alike than they may think. She admits she doesn’t know where she’s going in life and that she’s “crashing down like a paper plane.” The one thing she does know is that “life is strange.”
MARINA wraps her record up with “Soft To Be Strong,” a ballad accompanied by piano chords. She sings, “I found out love has to be soft to be strong,” where she realizes the need for slow healing and gentleness when one wants to show love. In the end, she puts her insecurities to the side and chooses love over fear.
After a three year hiatus of soul-searching, MARINA may not know where she’s going yet, but she accepts that. “LOVE + FEAR” allows her to take a step back and contemplate her accumulated thoughts on humanity, the universe and herself.
Contact Kailey Cheng at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.