Marina & The Diamonds
Who: Marina Diamandis (she’s a solo act – ‘The Diamonds’ are a concept)
Origin: Abergavenny, Wales
Sound: “Zany Pop”
Release: The Family Jewels (Out now in the UK, May 25th in the US)
Why She Matters in 2010: Marina Diamandis is pop’s newest whipsmart drama queen. With cutting lyrics about American consumerism, social morals, and her own myriad of insecurities, The Family Jewels is a welcome debut pop album that will be appreciated by anyone who thought Lily Allen wasn’t quite sardonic or brash enough. Marina satirizes the trivialities of modern life, but she freely stands among the accused in her songs – she’s self-deprecating, not self-righteous. Musically, she’s a magpie, her polished compositions rooted in styles borrowed from the oompa-stomp of music hall to kooky new wave to ABBA-esque disco. Meanwhile, broad comparisons to 80’s queens of unconventionality – most notably Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush, and Lene Lovich – give you an idea of the tricks Marina’s hyberbolic vocal range makes possible. But as distinct as her zigzagging vibrato is, her bracing lyrics are perhaps what fans will connect to most. She’s proof positive that smart girls can write hit songs that don’t concern love, and that wearing couture doesn’t make you a bimbo.
Why She’s Fashionable: Well, Marina already loves fashion. She’s already gone on record and stated she’s interested in starting her own fashion project someday – not a celebrity label (she detests those), but a collaborative effort. And with her piercing looks, she’s a glacial version of a Greek goddess and a prime candidate for cover stories and front row status at Fashion Week. Already, forward-thinking designers like Hannah Marshall have dressed Marina for TV appearances. Don’t be shocked to see her as the star of a major ad campaign in the near future. Burberry, anyone?
Who: Theo Hutchcraft & Adam Anderson
Origin: Manchester, England
Sound: “Doom Pop”
Release: Their UK debut is due August 16th.
Why they matter in 2010 : In the tradition of Pet Shop Boys and Tears for Fears, Hurts are a moody postmodern pop duo with a proclivity for cerebral drama. "Wonderful Life", their serenely emotive debut single, immediately rated them a cut above the spate of two-dimensional acts reenacting 80’s heartbreak. They‘ve been extremely guarded with the press – good luck googling them – and that intensely secretive nature has quickly become integral to their enigmatic appeal. Last week, they performed their first live show ever – in a church in Salford. Early adopters equated the event with a religious experience, indeed. The band will release their debut album this summer.
Why They’re Fashionable: Hurts look the way they sound: dramatic, dark, and portentous. Their two videos, both shot in black and white, pair Kraftwerk’s highly-stylized Teutonic noir sheen with the austere claustrophia of Anton Corbijn’s work with Joy Division. In other words, their immaculate aesthetic provides the eye candy fashion editors’ dreams are made of. It doesn’t hurt that elegant lead singer Theo is a former male model – a tenet that will earn Hurts instant editorial kudos, as well as saucer-eyed female fans.
These New Puritans
Who: Jack Barnett, Thomas Hein, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson, George Barnett
Origin: Southend-on-Sea, England
Sound: “This is attack music” – in their own words.
Release: Hidden, out now.
Why They Matter in 2010: Simply put, you‘ve never heard anything like this. Their music is the soundtrack to Steve Reich’s nightmares – a hypothetical the band would no doubt wholly welcome. TNPS have always been a bit unsettling: their debut album Beat Pyramid knit queasy riffs with abstruse lyrical concepts about cursed numbers, alchemy, and such. Since carving out a small niche in the weirder, artier end of the post-punk revivalist ghetto of 2007, the band have mutated into perilously enterprising sonic architects, as evidenced on ruthless new single “We Want War”. Infinitely more terrifying, complex, and ambitious than anything else released this side of the new decade, it’s the first of many head trips on Hidden, a brutal but intricate album that explores the embattled mentality of human duress, and yes, war – figurative and otherwise. Primordial sounds like the sick sharpening of knives strike a lethal disharmony against other unlikely instrumentation – woodwinds and oboes never uttered such ominous notes until now. Lurching from hypnotic hymns to polyrhythmic squelch, Hidden is a masterclass in brave experimentalism that defies easy, or even imaginative, description. Much the way Radiohead’s Kid A set an early high benchmark for a decade of left-field music in 2000, so does Hidden in 2010.
Why They’re Fashionable: These New Puritans are famously linked to photographer/designer/tastemaker Hedi Slimane, who featured their headspinning inaugural single “Navigate, Navigate” in his Dior Homme Spring 2007 show. Since then, TNPS’s music has peppered the edgier catwalks of NYC, Paris, and London. With Hidden’s labyrinthine concepts and accompanying visuals attracting massive buzz, the band’s glance with the mainstream lends itself well to many a crossover opportunity with the fashion universe this year. If Gareth Pugh were to launch a fragrance, TNPS would be the band to soundtrack it.