Release Date: Oct 5, 2010
Record label: Fortuna Pop
Allo Darlin' are a quintessential, dyed-in-the-wool twee pop band (and a pedigreed one at that -- frontwoman Elizabeth Morris plays in Tender Trap with twee icon Amelia Fletcher, while bassist Bill Botting is a member of Darren Hayman's Secondary Modern) but their potential appeal extends far beyond the typically homespun, insider-y indie pop scene, since their music conveys all the genre's sweetness and enthusiasm without (or at least without too much of) the sappy infantilism and amateurish shambling that turn off most listeners of the genre. On the basis of their self-titled 2010 debut, it's not hard to imagine this London outfit finding the kind of widespread devotion enjoyed by leading lights like Camera Obscura, the Lucksmiths, or even Belle & Sebastian. Certainly, Allo Darlin' is most reminiscent of these artists' earlier, scrappier efforts, but the sophistication is there, most crucially, in Morris' songs, which strike just the right balance of clever and heartfelt, wittily specific, and broadly relatable.
In April, Pitchfork's Nitsuh Abebe asked, "Have we reached some point where our knees jerk and we kick away anything any critic can write off as cutesy or 'twee' or associate with the wrong movies?" He had a point, of course. After a short burst of enchanting indie pop albums by Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, the Boy Least Likely To, and many others in the mid-2000s, a cutesy sensibility has gone on to conquer the box office (Michael Cera, Zooey Deschanel) and the Billboard charts (Owl City). Faced with so much mainstream success, an anti-twee backlash was probably inevitable.
For Allo Darlin’, wearing your influences on your sleeve is the sincerest form of flattery. So what if the up-and-coming London band sometimes comes off like a carbon copy of Camera Obscura? After all, it’s not like those critical darlings didn’t seem like a rip off of Belle and Sebastian at first, or that Stuart Murdoch himself wasn’t written off as a Morrissey and Nick Drake wannabe. And, yeah, it’s no coincidence that there’s a family resemblance between Allo Darlin’ and the late, great Heavenly, considering that frontwoman Elizabeth Morris moonlights in indie-pop hall-of-famer Amelia Fletcher’s current gig, Tender Trap.
Australian singer Elizabeth Morris recently quit her job as a waitress in a north London café but before she did she evidently picked up some [b]Kate Nash[/b]-ish not-quite-there rhyming habits. For that bravery alone, we really wish that we could get to like this album and its lingering summer innocence/[b]Pipettes[/b]-style retro swoons. But even that fails to deter from the fact that, in places, [b]Allo Darlin’[/b] sound like [b]The Beautiful South[/b] playing for an early ’90s Christian book fair in a British seaside resort on the south coast.
A fully-formed talent at the first attempt – as rare as it is welcome. Daniel Ross 2010 Allo Darlin’ is the performing name of the lovely and warming Elizabeth Morris (and accomplices), who moved to London from Australia in 2005. A few musical endeavours and quiet attempts at songwriting later, and she has become a new staple of London’s indie-pop carousel thanks to her prowess at crafting simple but thoroughly affecting and mature songs on the ukulele.