Out today, Marina Allen’s new album ‘Centrifics’, the anticipated follow-up to her acclaimed album, ‘Candlepower’. Full of surprising melodies and hooks, contemplative, and startling, it was written during a self-imposed six-month seclusion in quieter Northern California. Not your typical singer-songwriter, Allen draws from influences as wide as loft jazz, Karen Carpenter, Meredith Monk and the New York avant-garde, and modern masters like Joanna Newsom, Neko Case, and Fiona Apple.
Addressing big themes on self-improvement and self-acceptance, ‘Centrifics’ poses questions: What happens when we leave behind what we thought we knew? What’s next to grow alongside me? While the more DIY ‘Candlepower’, pieced together over a couple of years was subversive, and obscure, ‘Centrifics’ is more joyful, funny and direct. Lilting melodies deliver serious messages while Allen’s extraordinary range and depth vocally showcases her carefully considered nuances.
‘Centrifics’ is a collection of awe-inspiring reflections, observations and questions about the self, the world, and how they interact. ‘Or Else’ is a personal notebook of revelations on relationships; slow self-roasting like a lost but soulful Laura Nyro out-take, while ‘Superreality’ trips off the tongue like an introspective daydream with its evocative range and musicality. It’s a long trip that heads for shelter with the world weariness of ‘Halfway Home’ which resonates with the kind of baroque pop warmth that Neil Young summoned up as an antidote to Americana on ‘Harvest’.
“I went into writing Centrifics knowing I wanted to give myself permission. I was fed up with hiding myself and a fierceness started to enter the songs, which I leaned into. The entire time I was writing, I just kept saying “yes”, that was my only rule. In a way, these songs became a bridge for me to get to the other side and so Centrifics became aspirational. I threw the stone into the ocean as far as I could and then figured out how to swim to it. Instead of trying to get it perfect, the album works as a ladder to confront and hoist myself over all the hurdles, walls, setbacks and suffering. In that way imagination became a tool I desperately clung to rather than a place to recede.”
Recorded at a number of studios in L.A between 2021 and 2022, ‘Centrifics’ was produced, engineered and mixed by Chris Cohen and co-engineered by Jonny Kosmo. It features performances from Chris Cohen, Logan Hone, Jonny Kosmo, Emily Elhaj (Angel Olsen), Jasper McMahon, Ben Varian and Joachim Polack (Pearl and the Oysters, Mild High Club).
“I wrote the songs on guitar and piano, but I chose my voice as my only instrument on the record” Allen adds. “For me a lot of the magic rises in the studio as my arrangements emerge and shift. I had wonderful collaborators on Centrifics who were willing to go along with the cinematic flow I tend to envision. Chris Cohen and later, Ben Varian and I, worked off barebones tracks, adding only those thoughts and lines and instruments that we were certain could amplify the meaning. Other beautiful contributions came from Emily Elhaj, and Joachim Polack”.
Available on White Vinyl (Rough Trade Exclusive), Black Vinyl and CD.
21 Sep: Lodge Room, Los Angeles, CA, US
15 Feb: Café Oto, London, UK