Release Date: May 3, 2011
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Catapulted from her GCSEs into the hub of London’s bustling anti-folk scene, buoyed by a record deal with the behemothic Virgin, Londoner [b]Alessi Laurent-Marke[/b] has had a hell of a lot of growing up to do. Her second, now with indie Bella Union, is a precious mix of childlike insouciance and adolescent anxiety. Alessi swings between the likes of [b]‘Wire’[/b] – which finds her intoning “[i]I feel lonely, my friends don’t seem to know me like I thought they did[/i]” before the melancholia is chivvied away in wafting horns and rushing strings – and the lazy, gently wending country of [b]‘Kind Of Man’[/b] and the endearingly rickety [b]‘The Robot’[/b], which have a deftness that defies her years.
As precocious as Laura Marling but endowed with a less burdened spirit (which could be why she hasn't captured the public's imagination to the same degree), 20-year-old Londoner Alessi Laurent-Marke is now on her second album of gentle musings. And what a beguiling thing it is. The 12 brief songs (five of them under two minutes long) reveal a talent that's on the verge of becoming something special.
A half-hour collection of songs following on from the previous year's Soul Proprietor EP, Time Travel finds Alessi Laurent-Marke and company settling back into independent label life with ease -- and certainly it's not bad to be something of a veteran of major-label life when one is only 21 when it comes to taking control of one's destiny. That said, Mazzy Star's influence is worn heavily on Laurent-Marke's sleeve at this point, to put it mildly; the heavy reverb, her sweetly drowsy singing, the steady arrangement of piano, slide guitar twang, and more all sound like they could have been right off of So Tonight That I Might See. With that as an unavoidable comparison point and baseline, as can be heard again on songs like the title track, Time Travel is still a pleasant album, where what comes out more are the moments of variation on the form than the form itself.
At 16, Alessi Laurent-Marke left school in London to pursue a career in music and made a fateful promise to her parents – if she hadn’t found success within a year, she would admit defeat and return to education. At 17, her intense gigging and self-promotion had paid off, with her acoustic guitar playing and disarmingly breathy voice attracting attention to her gentle folk. Signed to a major, she was flown out to Omaha, Nebraska, and recorded a well-received debut with her dream producer, Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes.
There’s a lot about Alessi’s Ark that should have guaranteed her more success than she achieved when she released her debut album, Notes From The Treehouse, in 2009. Support slots with Laura Marling, the queen of the indie-folk scene, will have done Alessi Laurent-Marke’s career some good. Radio airplay for her lullaby-pop single ‘Over The Hill’ will have helped too.
Folk singer’s second LP features strong songs delivered with an elegant naivety. Garry Mulholland 2011 Alessi Laurent-Marke is, you suspect, a girl who has little time for the modern world. Unlike the vast majority of her southwest London collegiate pop peers – but a little like one of them, Anna Calvi – she has little interest in defining the zeitgeist by attempting to fuse hip dance styles with chart pop.