Five months ago, Marina came back into our lives after a lengthy hiatus, with her divisive ‘Love + Fear’, a double album about the the two emotions.
Five months later, and Marina’s already back! Kind of. As she continues taking the ‘Love + Fear’ tour around the world, she’s gifted her diamonds with an acoustic EP, featuring five stripped-back versions of the tracks from her prior record. But is it any good?
In short, yes. If you liked ‘Love + Fear’, you’ll like this little EP. I mean, it’s not going to set the world on fire, but the songs are rearranged delicately, her vocals really shine through, and it’s a cute little reimagining of the tracks from ‘Love + Fear’.
The track-listing itself, though, is… bizarre. ‘True’, ‘Superstar’, ‘Karma’, ‘No More Suckers’ and ‘Orange Trees’ wouldn’t have been my top picks for an acoustic reimagining. For starters, no ‘Handmade Heaven’? I mean, that lead single was beautiful, and I feel as though its lyrical content about finding a home in nature would’ve been amplified ten-fold by using an acoustic-based, more mellow approach.
‘Believe In Love’ doesn’t make an appearance, either. It might just be my personal bias, as the track is perhaps the most ethereal song on the record, but I’m still a tad bitter it doesn’t show its little face. It would’ve been beautiful to hear it rearranged in a unique, acoustic way.
While ‘To Be Human’ is my favourite song off the record – and potentially my favourite song of the entire year – I’m actually pleased it doesn’t make an appearance here. You can’t improve on perfection, after all.
Still, I can see where Marina’s mind was at when she chose this tracklist. They’re pretty much the tracks you wouldn’t expect her to choose, the ones furthest away from sounding acoustic on the record. ‘Orange Trees’, for example, is the most bizarre pick, while ‘No More Suckers’ doesn’t have an acoustic-energy on its original debut. Weirdly, though, it works.
‘Karma’, instead of being a tongue-in-cheek track laced with edges of spite, is transformed into a beautiful lullaby-esque version of its former self. It makes sense including it in the tracklist, really, considering its the latest single (and probably last) off the record. There’s a building bass that beats through the latter part of the track like a heartbeat, gently strumming guitars and delicate, glass-like glockenspeil-esque notes chiming away in the depths of the production.
‘True’ and ‘Superstar’ are both gentler, more quieter versions of their former selves. ‘Superstar’ was one of the highlights of the original, for me, and hearing it produced this way – as if from an alternate dimension – is a unique experience. I prefer the original versions of the two, perhaps because I’ve grown to get to know them over the past few months, but it’s still a treat for any Marina fan to hear what could have been. Her vocals are crystal clear, too, reminding us of why Marina’s one of the best gals in the game.
‘No More Suckers’ is almost better than its original version (fight me). Here voice is clearer, the minimal instruments in the backing of the track shining through even more so. I’m also in love with the little guitar strumming that plays throughout the entirety of ‘Orange Trees’, which, again, I feel is better than its original debut on ‘Love + Fear’. It’s more natural, as if Marina’s just casually singing the tune while sat around a campfire in the dying sunlight. Personally, I feel as though it amplifies the original vibe of the track.
‘Love + Fear (Acoustic)’ doesn’t shy away from production, which I, for one, appreciate. Many times, artists release acoustic versions of their tracks and they’re… empty. Vacant. I know that’s the point, really, but Marina does something different. She fills that vacant space with instruments, each feeling as though they’re in their rightful place. It never feels sparse, but, similarly, it never feels over-filled or bloated. It’s not just Marina’s prior vocals slapped on top of a guitar riff, oh no. It’s got a vocal-infused facelift, and an array of strange little quirks hidden in the folds of its production. That’s how you do an acoustic EP, ladies and gents.
For more on music, check out my review of the standard version of ‘Love + Fear’. Or, see what I thought of Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’.