Laura Marling
Alas, I Cannot Swim


4.0
excellent

Review

by rasputin USER (196 Reviews)
January 28th, 2009 | 71 replies | 13,522 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A collection of chirpy and beautiful songs that showcase Marling’s prowess as a musician.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

Although only eighteen, Laura Marling’s presence on her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim is seemingly brimming with the experience and emotion of someone far older than she, her more than suitable voice bringing her lyrical imagery to life, fluidly playing over the subtle instrumentation. She may be joining an already expansive group of musicians, but Marling definitely sticks out from among the rest. Her debut album is a very bright album, even through its several melancholic tracks; there is a pleasant quality to Marling’s voice that remains constantly hopeful and endearing. Not a single track goes awry from the album’s initial focus – although the catchier, poppier songs occasionally contrast with the serious numbers, it is a welcome contrast, one which does nothing more than add to the platform of Marling’s versatility.

Beginning the album with ‘Ghosts’, one of her more well known tracks, Marling introduces us to her cheerful voice with an almost rapidly delivered verse, before smoothing out the song with a delicate and restrained chorus. The song is remarkably likable, and serves as an engaging beginning to the album. The next two tracks, ‘Old Stone’ and ‘Tap At My Window’ are slower, seemingly fragile, but Marling makes sure to empower each song with her powerful voice. Both begin gently and work their way up to a crescendo, using the saturating effect of strings to really drive Marling’s position. The build up in ‘Tap At My Window’ is very fluid, and its ensuing climax is definitely a highlight of the album.

‘Failure’ continues on with the mellow feel of the previous two tracks but with ‘You’re No God’ Marling returns to the cheery stance of the album’s opener, a heavily strummed guitar and catchy beat playing along besides Marling and her backup vocalists. Its position on the album is well thought out, giving the album a sense of diversity in relation to its mood and direction. ‘Night Terror’ is perhaps the album’s highest point, with Marling giving an almost soulful performance in what is a moving and somewhat haunting song. To pick a single song among so many greats, ‘Night Terror’ would be the one to really portray Marling’s maturity as an artist.

Closing the album with ‘Your Only Doll (Dora)’, the album strays from its predictable makings into experimental territory; the track being twice as long as any other song on the album, its first half seems unfulfilling as the way to finish off the album. However, after a short interlude of birds chirping, the song concludes with a folky and warming passage that is an unlikely conclusion to Alas, I Cannot Swim; it reiterates the nostalgic and jovial structure of the album in the most subtle of ways, and in hindsight is definitely a pleasant finish to what is a very charming album.

As mentioned before, Marling’s debut sticks out from its contemporaries; the album itself does not have any inherent weaknesses, and in terms of engagement surpasses the likes of Lykke Li or even Russian Red. The album is void of any tension, purposeful or otherwise, and remains constantly natural and genuine; a delight to listen to, and even more delightful to write about. Highly recommended.



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user ratings (123)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
rasputin
January 28th 2009



14516 Comments


Posted.

st4ytrue
January 28th 2009



279 Comments


o rly



BallsToTheWall
January 28th 2009



44164 Comments


Noticed it was a chick artist immediately and prowled this review like a cheetah going after a gazzele or something. Good work and if this is Rasputin approved, i'll acquire this shit, like right now.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 28th 2009



10194 Comments


New Romantic not on this?

I love that song so I guess I shall look into this. Ghosts is good too.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2009



20855 Comments


Fantastic review Rasputin & definitely worthy of a pos. I say that as it stands very well on its own, not just because it is not Death Metal!

rasputin
January 28th 2009



14516 Comments


Thanks guys, good album is good.

gaslightanthem
January 28th 2009



5209 Comments


i love this album and well done for the review aha

Willie
Moderator
January 28th 2009



15876 Comments


Nice review. Someone from Sputnik reccomended this to me over last.fm and it was really good.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

Knott-
Emeritus
January 28th 2009



10194 Comments


IT SHOULD HAVE NEW ROMANTIC ON IT THOUGH.

Do like this though. First half is good so farrrrrrrr. Cross Your Fingers is nicee.

gaslightanthem
January 28th 2009



5209 Comments



Nice review. Someone from Sputnik reccomended this to me over last.fm and it was really good.



that would be me lolThis Message Edited On 01.28.09

Willie
Moderator
January 28th 2009



15876 Comments


Ha ha, ok. I get so many reccomendations over last.fm that I sometimes forget who said what.

gaslightanthem
January 28th 2009



5209 Comments


not good enough

Willie
Moderator
January 28th 2009



15876 Comments


Well, shit. If I send you naked pictures can we be even?

Edit: I'm partial to her slower songs, myself. I like "Tap At My Window".This Message Edited On 01.28.09

rasputin
January 28th 2009



14516 Comments


i want naked pictures of you trey

Zoo
January 29th 2009



3759 Comments


So hot

AtavanHalen
January 29th 2009



17927 Comments


The ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts the ghosts

rasputin
January 29th 2009



14516 Comments


good one man

Willie
Moderator
January 29th 2009



15876 Comments


Your reviews have been bringing a lot of random posts lately. What the fuck... Is the album mostly stuff like "Tap at the Window" or more like the opening track?

rasputin
January 29th 2009



14516 Comments


I think there are more slower tracks than poppier ones, but there are still a few poppier ones.

Willie
Moderator
January 29th 2009



15876 Comments


Cool, then I think I'll end up getting the full album.



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