I HAVE ONLY recently rediscovered the distinct sound of Laura Marling and with her fifth album being released, I just had to check it out. The new album Short Movie, takes a somewhat new direction from what we have seen before, with tracks ‘False Hope’ and ‘Short Movie’ both take on a new edge with a more electric sound for Marling that we have not seen before. Marling has broken from the use of the acoustic guitar and turned to playing the electric for the first time on her fifth album. However, that is not to say there is none of the acoustic Marling we know and trust, the final track of the album ‘Worship’ particularly still seems to encompass what we have heard before.
The album draws links to her self-imposed isolation while recording this album in Los Angeles, with the different tracks seeming to play out a series of disconnected scenes from her time spent there. The album stems from this soul-searching, exploration of different sides of LA while Marling deals with her isolation. Another new turn, is that this album is also co-produced by Marling, who stated that she wanted to “demystify production.”
The time in LA can definitely be heard through the album, with at times there being that underground urban music feel , particularly in the opening sequence of ‘Warrior’, which is one of my favourite tracks on the album. We further see this influence within the track ‘Don’t Let Me Bring You Down’, which has lyrics alluding to her confusion with how to live in LA and deals with people’s anti-negative attitudes.
The track ‘Strange’ is aptly named, I’ll be honest and just say I didn’t get it. This somewhat experimental track and is described as a ‘neo-spoken word’ number as she almost simply speaks about the strangeness of life. Along with this, some of the album seems to merge into one disjointed ensemble of sounds that have no distinct feel, the album’s first single ‘False Hope’ being the contrast to this with its confident and decisive sound.
When all is said and done, I just can’t seem to come to a decision on how I feel about this album, there are certainly moments of genius, but there are some tracks that just don’t seem to fit well with the rest of the album. Either way, it is clear that Marling is a now at an intersection with where to go from here, and she has the talent to go whichever way she wants. What is even more impressive is that she is only 25 and already has 5 studio albums to her name, I look forward to much more from her as she finds her place in the growing folk-alternative music world.