Despite having a No 1 album and a strong fanbase, Marina Diamandis has never become a household name. Perhaps that’s about to change

For the last decade, Marina – formerly Marina and the Diamonds – has sat on the precarious fence between mainstream and underground pop: someone with that curious, 21st-century kind of fame where you can rack up tens of millions of streams without ever having a Top 10 single. The Welsh native’s first solo work in four years, Handmade Heaven, was released last Friday – can it finally be the song to give her universal appeal?

Peter Robinson, editor of the influential pop music site Popjustice, says Marina excels in a particular manner: while “certain music comes in and out of fashion, it’s a rare artist who does exactly what they want to a high standard”. He describes her as “one of the top three British artists – it’s a shame we don’t cherish her more.”

With every album Marina, now 33, has offered a different persona, focus and tone, attracting and dismaying fans and critics with each change. Her first album, The Family Jewels, in 2010, was written mainly by her – rough around the edges but unapologetically honest and autobiographical. It had a range of styles, from two ethereal piano-driven tracks, Obsessions and I’m Not a Robot, which address OCD tendencies and social isolation, to songs with poppier aspirations discussing wider societal issues. Take a look at the song Girls: “Girls are not meant to fight dirty / Never look a day past 30 / I’ll never bend over and curtsey for you”: assertive, sarcastic lyrics backed by spine-chilling synthesisers and haunting laughter.

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