Review: Marina Doesn't Mince Words With 'Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land'

by JC Alvarez

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday June 14, 2021

Review: Marina Doesn't Mince Words With 'Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land'

MARINA doesn't mince words on her latest album. Her fifth studio offering, "Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land," is bold on lyrics and relentlessly forceful; it's exactly what pop music should sound like in this post-COVID apocalypse we've all had to endure.

On the album's title track and lead in, MARINA lays it all out — she's "not here to conform... walls are being broken and we're ready for change." The artist has admitted she was inspired to tackle these tunes because of the hot lens on the current women's movement and the mistreatment of the LGBTQ community.

It's been a very difficult four years for sure, and at least MARINA has found some focus in creatively challenging her angst and energy into a setlist of ruthlessly honest tracks. The music feels extremely retro and reminiscent of funk tunes and the electro-pop that would start to dominate in the early 80s. "Venus Fly Trap" has a series of guitar riffs that are easily transportive and the artist's hypnotically charged vocals have an eerie way of putting her somewhere else. MARINA sings colorfully; perhaps it's her lyrics, but she sounds like what technicolor looks like: Heightened!

On the anthemic "Man's World," her vocal arrangements are deceptively alluring, beguiling the depth of her lyrics, which are taunt and tired. "So don't punish me, cause I'm not a man," she sings at the conclusion of the track. It's both tragic and profound. "Purge the Poison" is an examination of how popular culture corrupts and tears apart anything that is authentically approached and then put through the meat grinder of the media. It's a hopeless default and deeply saddening, but the track is playful and its "punk aggression" is perfectly feminine and intelligent.

MARINA has a very acute sense of what she wants to say with her music, and her lyrics are sliced as carefully and artfully as you might imagine. That's perfectly captured in the soothing ballad "Highly Emotional People," which reaches beautiful emotional mountain tops vocally. The track is also perfectly produced around MARINA's vocal arrangement, supporting the song's message and lifting it up. "Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land" has an ample mix of up-tempo beats and ballads, and the artist also has a way of pulling things back and pairing the instruments back expertly.

This isn't the party album that most may have been hoping we'd be getting for time. Right now, we're all emerging from our quarantine as if we've been in a cocoon waiting for what's next. MARINA is giving us the soundtrack for that slow reintroduction into the real world; "no matter what happens now (after all) nobody can take our love down" she sings on the album's final track. "Goodbye" is a great way to put this past year behind us, and look forward with great optimism.

"Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land" is available on Digital Download.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".