Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Twee Pop
"You said a record is not just a record/Records can hold memories," Elizabeth Morris sighs on a wistful ballad called "My Sweet Friend." It’s an apt thesis for her U.K. band's second disc of sparkling indie-pop love songs. Morris' narrators use music to measure their lives: hunting for a bar that has Toots and the Maytals on the jukebox, missing a friend who loves the Silver Jews, cheering on a pal's riot-grrrl band.
Allo Darlin'Europe[Slumberland; 2012]By Philip Cosores; May 2, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweet"I'm wondering if I've already heard all the songs that will mean something," Elizabeth Morris ponders near the middle of Europe, the second album from the London-based indie pop band Allo Darlin'. And, though the sentiment resonates (especially considering the lightning-fast, disposable nature at which it seems we consume our music these days), the listener can't help but snicker at the thought with regards to the very nature of the album. Europe is built around songs that could, and should, mean something to the music fans that stumble upon it, heavily indebted to the alternative pop music of the 80's and 90's, but with enough clever left turns to feel original and, well, meaningful.
Allo Darlin’s sunny twee-pop has always been cinematic, but very approachable. The London quartet’s self-titled debut was filled with enthusiasm and sweet melodies. Their follow-up, Europe continues down the path set in 2010 and pushes forward with humble richness. Already being compared to Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obsura and the Lucksmiths, the foursome moves beyond their shadows and expands the sound set by Aussie-born frontwoman Elizabeth Morris.
Elizabeth Price, who co-founded influential 1980s indie-pop outfit Talulah Gosh when she was an art student, opens an exhibition of video installations later this month at a London gallery. Using pop music from the Shangri-Las, A-Ha, and others, she has said she hopes to convey an unruly humanity she believes is too often missing from contemporary art. "It's cool, it's measured, it's outside of things, and I think that's a complete delusion," she explained in the latest issue of the Wire, suggesting art should instead relate to our "actual social lives.
Like Ken Livingstone in Hello Kitty hairslides, indie-pop looked to be a bygone concern, but is suddenly back in with a fighting chance. This is largely due to the breezy rom-pop brilliance of Allo Darlin’ singles like ‘The Polaroid Song’, singer Elizabeth Morris’ cute/cool way with a ukelele and a song about watching cartoons on NYE. Their second album finds them poised between The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Stornoway and Kirsty MacColl.
Anyone hoping for more ukulele on Allo Darlin's second album Europe might be a little disappointed but it should only be a mild let-down because anyone who has already fallen under the tender spell of Elizabeth Morris' songwriting and the band's gentle music will be pleased as punch. The album is just as sweet, melodic, and memorable as their self-titled debut but also a little more together and focused sounding. A majority of the songs have a vastly increased amount of bounce and kick, and many, like the super hooky "Capricornia," the almost hard rocking "The Letter," and "Northern Lights," sound like would-be favorites at an indie disco.
A lot of people might suspect that the traditional world of indie-pop – that is, boys writing about girls, set to lop-sided melodies and jangly guitars – is a extinct beast, killed off or at least fatally wounded by more modern musical trends. In fact, there’s a healthy community of like-minded souls still in existence across the UK, all putting their own spin on that formulaic set up. Allo Darlin’, with the uke-wielding Australian Elizabeth Morris as their leader, are one of the best examples of how a sound that could have seemed thin and dated is being given a welcome burst of energy.
For any artist, the debut album is absolutely pivotal. It’s the culmination of all life experiences collected up to that point and a real statement of intent for a potential career. It’s a manifesto; a way of presenting to the world who you are and how you see things. It’s also a tremendously exciting time; countless are the artists who never made it to that first record stage, so it’s a kind of validation of your work and says what you do has some kind of intellectual merit.
Europe! Some expectations you're stoking with that title, Allo Darlin' – a vast distance, a turbulent history, not to mention the band responsible for 'The Final Countdown' (and all splendid Arrested Development scenes resulting). By all indicators this album should encompass a great distance. 'The Letter' finds Elizabeth Morris name-checking the "frozen sea of Sweden", the "shattered dreams of England" and NYC's Silver Jews, all filtered through an Aussie accent that at times transforms completely into that of Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell (Scottish)… It's like some sort of Indie Polygon.
Once you got past their name Allo Darlin’s debut self-titled album was a terrific, witty and heartfelt record. A jangly blast of catchy as hell, wide-smile-inducing indie pop. Now here we are with ‘Europe’, a continuation of that charming debut.Listening to an Allo Darlin’ record is like looking through a box of old photographs. Songs focus on the first flushes of a relationship, the nostalgia of a holiday abroad and on each track feelings gently rise to the surface.That means we get a clever and warmly embracing album centred on Elizabeth Morris’ literate tales.