Monday, May 14th, 2012
Review of Allo Darlin’s Europe
Nik VestbergThere’s many things I loved about Allo Darlin’ 2010 self-titled debut. The jangly guitars, strummy ukulele, and ebullient melodies that put the London-based foresome at the forefront of current bands unashamed to call themselves indie pop – absolutely – but what I found set them apart and made them really special was the way they used those traits to deliver songs that evoked the wistfulness and insecurity of growing up and out and apart. Far too often pure pop music feels strictly a youth movement but here was a band whose songs spoke to me in my mid- (okay now late-) thirties while still making me want to bop up and down like I did in my twenties.
It’s not hard to understand, then, why I’m so enamored with their just-released follow-up Europe. It continues the journey started with that first record but informed with the extra wisdom, regret, and experience that life brings as you live it. As I did in that previous review, I need to stress that Europe is not some po-faced, navel-gazing collection of songs – songs like “Capricornia”, “Northern Lights”, and “Still Young” are like manna from heaven for those with a sonic sweet tooth, all shimmer and shine and Elizabeth Morris’ sweetly smoky Aussie accent.
But you’ll likely not find anyone who’s listened to the album who wouldn’t point to “Tallulah” as the album’s centrepiece, despite it being the most skeletal and downcast song on the record. It stars just Morris and her ukulele – it’s worth noting there’s much less uke on this record than on the debut, with Morris strapping on a conventional 6-string as need be – and ruminates beautifully on distances of the geographical, temporal, and emotional varieties. The reminiscences may be Morris’, but despite their specificity they’re rendered in a way that makes you feel like they’re your own. These aren’t necessarily the notes you expect a band as outwardly cheerful as Allo Darlin’ to hit, but that’s what makes them so special.
On a scorecard that assigns points to pop criteria such as immediacy, buoyancy, what have you, it’s entirely possible that Europe might place a bit below the debut. There’s nothing as sweet and charming as “Polaroid Song” or “My Heart Is A Drummer” or, if go back to their early singles, as fun and cutesy as “Henry Rollins Don’t Dance” – but I don’t think you’d find anyone who’d try to argue that Europe isn’t still the superior record because it’s the one that confirms that Allo Darlin’ are a band that are so much more than you probably thought.
Belle & Sebastian guitarist Stevie Jackson released his solo debut (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson in the UK last Fall, but is preparing to put it out Stateside come July 3. To pave the way, he’s farmed out some audio and video tastes to American publications Paste and Blurt who’ve got a video and MP3 to share. Okay the video came out a while ago but the MP3 is new, and sits nicely alongside another one that came out when the album did initially.
DIY talks to the Collete half of the Thurlow sisters of 2:54, who’ve made a track from their self-titled debut available to download ahead of its May 29 release. They’re at Lee’s Palace on June 15 during NXNE.
MP3: 2:54 – “The March”
NME points to a Facebook post from Suede wherein Brett Anderson gives a status update of the band’s new material – they’ve chucked it all, recruited Dog Man Star producer Ed Buller to take charge and are starting over.