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Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land (2021) | Review

by Leah Singer

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Formerly known as Marina and The Diamonds, Welsh singer-songwriter MARINA released Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land on June 11th creeping, within a week, onto my ‘On Repeat’ playlist.

In a Billboard interview, the singer explained: “Songwriting has always been a vehicle for me to explore things that challenge me, and things that upset me.” The album exemplifies this approach. Heartbreak, female empowerment, systematic oppression, witchcraft, political movements, mental health, and several other topics are explored and condensed into ten handcrafted songs.

MARINA masters pairing unsightly truths with alluring melodies. The initial three songs address the struggles of a male-orientated society through a feminine lens, backed with memorable electro-pop sounds in true MARINA style.

‘Man’s World’ is lyrically striking in its discussion of female power being rejected in a masculine society and is indicative of her songwriting genius. The star sings, “Burnt me at the stake, you thought I was a witch centuries ago/ Now you just call me a b*tch,” expressing how outdated this rejection of powerful women is. The album has the signature electro-pop overtone which is anticipated by long-term fans. However, MARINA’s music unveils a degree of vulnerability, especially with ‘Flowers.’ The song sorrowfully reflects how a simple act could have saved her relationship and was quickly awarded a place on my crying playlist. ‘New America’ carries powerful messages which draw on the Me Too and BLM movement. In a Nylon interview she notes, “If I get a backlash from it, then that's just something that I have to accept that comes with writing about certain subjects.”

Marina using her platform to spread awareness on important issues while simultaneously producing art is admirable and shows the various shades of talent she possesses. The album is a true gem to be added to her already iconic discography and I eagerly anticipate her future artistic endeavours.


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