Archive | October, 2014

Album Review: Allo Darlin – ‘We Come from the Same Place’

26 Oct

Sometimes the world seems like an inherently unfair place. People with little or no discernible talent are frequently rewarded with respect, sometimes awe and often, inconceivable financial reward. Nowhere is this more evident than in the hurly-burly world of the music industry. Against such a backdrop, it is easy to be cynical about modern music, especially at a time when nostalgia is king, especially for the late thirty/forty something whom promoters seem to target incessantly with the usual artists: The Stone Roses, James, Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays. Christ, even Northside will be reforming and ‘working on new material’ soon. Of course, it’s natural to retreat back to what you know in an often confusing and alien world. But it needn’t be like this.

Allo Darlin’s recently released their third album, We Come From The Same Place. Their debut album remains a gem. It would be a tad condescending to lavish such praise only to undermine it by adding the caveat, ‘in indie twee pop circles’. Sod that; it’s a bona fide modern classic. The sheer love and passion for music for music’s sake drips from each song, most notably on ‘Silver Dollars’ in which Elizabeth proclaims that ‘We do it because we love it.’ The ‘it’ here being making music, listening to music and wholly committing oneself to faith in music to make things better. Such a sentiment could easily be dismissed as slight but not when it is expressed with this level of sincerity. Indeed, their single, ‘Darren’, celebrates exactly this: the love of listening to music, in this case, the music of one time Hefner front man, Darren Hayman.

The ‘difficult’ second album (Europe) was a little shinier, more polished than its predecessor. Nonetheless, it has ‘Some People Say’ and ‘Tallulah’ in its playlist and so automatically deserves your instant respect. How anyone could not be moved by the lyric from the former: ‘So I go and see my good friend, the one who plays in the Riot Grrrl band, the way she dances on the stage, it is so awesome.’ Like most lyrics, it seems to lose its potency when typed or written down without the majestic voice and belief communicated in song. Just trust me on this and give it a listen.

Neatly, this brings us to the eagerly awaited latest album. It begins delicately and gradually with ‘Heartbeat’. Like all classic opening tracks, it establishes the tone and texture of what is to follow and offers the all-important contract with the listener. In this case, it promises a light hearted but sophisticated and grown up take on love, falling in love, being in love, growing up and pop music. Elizabeth’s lyrics are inflected throughout with that joyous feeling of meeting your future husband/wife. ‘Kings and Queens’ captures that moment when it’s just you and them and you are kings and queens of the small world you inhabit. The title track, ‘We Come From the Same Place’, subtly evokes the memory of the great Kirsty MacColl’s ‘He’s on the Beach’, just slightly slower. A criticism? No. If you are going to be in the company of other songs then choose wisely and such a song is an excellent choice.

Arguably, the emotional punch comes with ‘Angela’. This, along with Ben Folds’, ‘Picture Window’, Teenage Fanclub’s, ‘Did I say’ and the aforementioned Allo Darlin tracks, has the uncanny effect of making you check to see whether you have something in your eye and blaming it on dust. It gets you rifling through your record collection to see which song it reminds you of. It doesn’t though; you come up short. It’s just that good. But it’s not just maudlin beauty. ‘Bright Eyes’, although initially disappointing in that it’s not a cover version evoking cute and cuddly rabbits, is a slice of the very best male/female pop duets. Guitarist Paul Rains will surely get further opportunities to grab the mic. It swings along without a care in the world, reminiscent of the very best of Lemonheads’ work.

Admittedly, Allo Darlin is not the greatest name for a band, especially such a delightful one as this, what with its connotations of loud shouts emanating from market traders. But that’s really the only down side here.

Of course, this band is even more moving and delightful live. They are worth it just to catch the glee on bassist Bill’s face when he nails the riff in the middle of Paul Simon’s, ‘You can call me Al’ or when he is lost in the groove of traditional show closer, ‘Heart is a Drummer’. They are playing near you in November and if you go, you’ll leave with a tear in your eye and a smile on your face: just like a great gig should be. Make the world a fairer place, give these people the respect they deserve and in doing so, make your own world a better place. Buy the album and see them live.

See you there.