We reviewed Marina and the Diamonds‘ first single, Obsessions, a few months back on Jukebox, and no one was particularly impressed. Which is a shame, because despite not having heard the aforementioned song, the near-universal disdain led me to write them off until I serendipitously happened upon The Crown Jewels EP.
I Am Not a Robot is a tour de force that creeps up on you unawares. It starts off with plinking pianos and a Regina Spektor cutesy-voice that initially scans as twee, but unfolds into something affecting and anthemic. The production slowly builds on the piano, adding a backbeat, strings, xylophone, synths and on to the chorus. While the vocal tics that bothered many of my compatriots on Obsessions are present, they honestly add character more often than not — a Shakira-esque goaty vibrato here; a staccato enunciation there. It’s all quite magical.
Plus the music video is totally batshit insane, which is the most important qualification for pop brilliance.
The remixes are almost as good, specifically the Aspirins For My Children Remix and the Penguin Prison Remix, both courtesy of Neon Gold. The former turns the song into a house duet with a robot, while the latter is an alternate universe take on DFA remixes.