Marina’s fifth album, Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land, is a look into the inner machinations of her mind over the past two years. Following up on the reflective Love + Fear, Marina sings about everything from heartbreak, to fame, to politics.
Written entirely by Marina, there is definitely a theme of self-ownership and reclaiming who she is throughout the album. She has always been the popstar that makes a profound statement in her work — she just has so much more to say now. Five out of ten tracks on the album are also co-produced by Marina, who worked with GRAMMY award-nominated producer Jennifer Decilveo, as well as James Flanigan who has worked with Dua Lipa and Hayley Kiyoko.
The first four songs on Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land are the singles, which are all upbeat in typical Marina-fashion. The opening and title track talks about embracing individuality: “You don’t have to be like everybody else / You don’t have to fit into the norm / You are not here to conform.” The most recent single, “Venus Fly Trap,” is all about self-ownership of not just herself, but her career. Her journey through fame in the music industry has given her the ability to advocate for herself.
Marina paints a larger picture of society in tracks like “Man’s World,” “Purge the Poison,” and most notably “New America.” As an artist that lets the events of the world become part of her songwriting process, the past year was impactful for her. She tells Billboard she wrote “New America” after George Floyd’s murder due to her visceral reaction to the global racial reckoning. She made it a point to highlight how privileged people take advantage of a system that benefits them and oppresses BIPOC.
Heartbreak songs and ballads are a commanding part of the album, with “Pandora’s Box” and “I Love You But I Love Me More” acting as a before and after a breakup. The latter song is already becoming a fan-favorite; it gives listeners more of a rock sound as Marina sings about walking away from a toxic situation and loving herself. “Flowers” is a ballad that reflects on the relationship, and Marina repeats phrases like “maybe I would’ve stayed” and “I wouldn’t have walked away” to prove she’s confident about ending things.
The final song, “Goodbye,” is a promise to take care of herself, bidding adieu to the old version of her. It starts as a piano ballad that takes a dramatic turn, evident in the staccatos before the chorus. She self-assuredly sings: “I’ve been a mother to everyone else / To every motherf*cker except myself.”
Marina’s new era is getting off the ground running with a global live streamed concert tomorrow from a remote California desert. Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land will be performed in its entirety along with some fan favorite songs. Tickets for the show are still available here. Marina has also revealed her plans to tour the new album in 2022, starting in San Francisco in February and finishing up in Ireland in May. We can expect a visually stunning show and tour to go with this vivid album.