7.0 - Good
If this ended as strong as it started, we would’ve had an 8 on our hands.
MARINA is back, with Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land, an album that I have sort of been anticipating, yet not too strongly. I adored the title track that was released as a single, with its insane energy and hook that were just irresistible. But mostly, I jumped into Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land blind, and even though it was a good album, I’d say it’s a mixed bag.
This album starts quite wonderfully. The opener is the title track that I mentioned early, and I really like how it sets up the futuristic, apoplectic, and progressive uprising it brings to the table. The track is existential, original, and bold, and I just like it a lot. Up next, the most recent single, Venus Fly Trap continues this winning streak. Sonically, it’s sort of similar to some tracks on The Family Jewels with a disco twist, and man does it bang. I really like how it explores power dynamics through nature, and it’s just a funky and rewarding time. Then there is Man’s World, and even though it is a slight step down, it’s still a really nice track about oppression, that doesn’t feel too preachy, even if it can sometimes feel like that. But still. It’s a nice ballad about fighting for what’s right, and I support it. It’s also well written, which is something I forgot to mention, but all of the tracks so far have pretty great songwriting for how blunt they are. Purge The Poison follows, one of the other singles, and it’s a step back up. It’s probably the most blunt song on this album, talking about capitalism, America, consumerism, mental health, the MeToo movement, and even real estate. It’s just a lot to take in, yet it does still feel extremely rewarding.
Highly Emotional People, still keeps the lyrical qualities about progression, with it being about sensitivity and vulnerability, which is an important message. I just think the production is a little slow for me, even if it has a great ending. New America comes afterwards, and y’all hate this one? How? I really like how it tackles America’s cultish and denying attitude, along with the country’s racist and oppressive origins. It’s really well done, and the production is catchy as well. Unfortunately, even though I like it, the next track marks a point where this album completely changes in tone, becoming a more boring and predictable listen, that completely diverges from the lyrical themes from the first four.
This is Pandora’s Box, and I actually enjoyed this ballad, since it’s a well written track about Marina realizing a relationship she is in is toxic and conflicted, using “Pandora’s Box” as a metaphor for marriage. However, my issue with this album stems with I Love You But I Love Me More, Flowers, and Goodbye, which are all love songs, which is normally fine, but I prefer this album’s existential yet cheerful style miles more. I just feel like these tracks are kind of same-y, if that makes any sense, and run on for way too long, and lack a strong hook or message.
Even with these complaints, Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land is a good album. It’s definitely flawed, and if MARINA focused more on making progressive hits I think it would’ve been a better result. But still, I can see why people really like this, and well, I did really like this, actually loved the first half, I just wish she pulled through just a little longer.
EDIT: The second half has grown on me ever so slightly, even if I think Goodbye is weak, Pandora’s Box grew off me a little
Best tracks: Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land, Venus Fly Trap, Man’s World, Purge The Poison, New America, I Love You But I Love Me More
Least fav: Goodbye