Even if Alessi Laurent-Marke (a.k.a. Alessi's Ark) hadn't been personally tapped by Laura Marling as her opening act on a recent U.S. tour, it would be hard not to draw comparisons between the two. Both hail from England, are 21 years old and have a lyrical and songwriting maturity beyond their years.
The main difference is that while Marling often sounds as if she has the weight of the world on her shoulders, Laurent-Marke is more likely to shake it off. That's reflected in the light arrangements on the 12 songs on her new album, "Time Travel," almost all of which have a bit of spring in their step. While "Wire" is a frowning lament ("Another wasted day / Counting every single breath / So this is what is left"), its frisky drums, gentle horns and Laurent-Marke's feathery coo make it more seductive than sad-sack.
Another way "Time Travel" keeps momentum is brevity. Ten of the tracks clock in at less than three minutes, so things never get bogged down or dragged out. "Kind of Man" is a languid serenade that recalls dream-pop faves Mazzy Star but wraps up in two minutes instead of drifting into sleepy territory, while "Maybe I Know" and "The Robot" have the brisk and wistful indie-pop charm of Camera Obscura. The quick-hit nature and variety of styles suggest many pleasant paths for Alessi's Ark to travel in the future.
--David Malitz, Nov. 11, 2011