MARINA’s acoustic take on ‘Love + Fear’ misses the mark

by Riana Buchman

MARINA’s acoustic take on ‘Love + Fear’ misses the mark

Love + Fear Acoustic

Atlantic Records UK · September 13, 2019

MARINA’s acoustic take on ‘Love + Fear’ misses the mark

MARINA’s first acoustic EP, Love + Fear Acoustic, entered the scene carrying expectations similar to that of a younger sibling following in their older sibling’s shadow. Love + Fear received significant hype after MARINA’s four year hiatus, but its slower, softer successor did not deliver with clean execution.

Whereas “Orange Trees” may be the only song that shines as a result of its acoustic transformation, others like “Superstar” and “Karma” sound like drab copies of the originals. As a result, the EP does not sound acoustic at all, but only turned down a notch.

Although the acoustic EP delivers a more honest and vulnerable MARINA, it also reveals the lack of depth in the original album’s lyrics. Without the distracting, loud synth and booming bass, the lyrics emerge as rather simple and cliche.

In “Superstar,” MARINA recounts, “I love the way we worked so hard / Yeah, we’ve come so far / Baby, look at me, you’re my superstar.” Each line is familiar, a storyline heard time and time again. As these lines repeat throughout the song as part of the chorus, it leaves a tiring effect. The same goes for “True” with “Everybody tells us what to do, do, do / Think they know what’s always good for you, you, you.” Additionally, the repetition in this song is empty and does not emphasize any meaningful points.

“True” reveals glittery piano lilts here and there, which gives the song an almost transcendent feeling. The short sustained notes during the chorus are convincing for a brief moment, but the song is quickly swept up again, making it difficult to appreciate the isolation tactic. By the end of the track, its busyness has increased significantly, with various add ons that just take up too much space.

In an interview with Billboard, MARINA revealed her criteria for EP-turned-acoustic songs was her ease in singing them. In making this safe choice, her distinctive voice merely blends into the backdrop of her music instead of acting as its focal point.

However, the EP’s redeemer arrives in the form of the ever popular track, “Orange Trees.” This track has an even more relaxed presence acoustically, most likely because of its soothing guitar. The song transports listeners onto a beachside resort without any cares in the world. As the last song on the EP, it wraps everything up in one serene sound.

Due to MARINA’s previous success with her acoustic tracks as Marina and the Diamonds, Love + Fear Acoustic should have helped her return to musical renown. However, the EP does not compare to the likes of her iconic acoustic performances of “Lies” or “I Am Not a Robot.”

Although the effort is present and MARINA’s sound has definitely shifted, it seems like she is trying so hard that any meaningful desired effect is lost on the audience. Each song tries to sound unique and to deliver original elements not heard in Love + Fear, but ends up sounding cluttered instead.