Alessi's Ark

Time Travel

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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. Sometimes it can be a bit of extra orchestration via wind instruments, sometimes a notably heavier bass punch, but the whole lends a somewhat sprightlier psych-pop atmosphere than might be initially expected. The sparkling "The Fever," with its lovely piano part matched against steady acoustic guitar, makes for a treat of an instrumental. One thing that actually stands out more as the album progresses is the brevity of the songs; there's a sense that many of them build but never quite resolve in an expected manner, as if they were a bridge or verse short. As a result, the cover of Lesley Gore's "Maybe I Know" stands out given how it fits a classic form -- it's the second longest song on the album. But if it's a polite take on romantic angst in her hands, the following song, "Stalemate," allows her to make more of a stamp with a portrayal of day-to-day details of a relationship, from irritations and lost keys to yearnings for something more. "Blanket," meanwhile, wins for its earthy simile: "Don't go spreading your love like a blanket."

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