Tuesday 15 May 2012

Allo Darlin' - Europe

Album review by KevW

If 'Europe' was an episode of despicable yet implausibly successful U.S. sitcom Friends (which, thank Christ, it's not) it would more than likely be titled 'The One Where Elizabeth Morris Tries To Push Her Band's Sound Forward Without Alienating Her Core Indier-Than-Thou Fanbase'. With an ace debut album that was as twee as a Paddington Bear rucksack full of kittens under their belt, Allo Darlin's follow-up is an attempt to ensure that their legacy is more than just as a passing indiepop curiosity, to be wheeled out in ten years time for a rapturous All Tomorrow's Parties reunion show. This task is deftly dealt with, shunning any urges set the controls for the heart of the charts, instead remaining true to their ideals. 'Europe' is a step forward, not a wholesale leap into Radio 2 guitar-pop territory.

In terms of production there's a slight shift towards a sleeker sound, but not enough to detract from the songs. It feels like growing up; Allo Darlin' are now a couple of inches taller and a little more mature looking than when they visited a couple of years ago, but just as endearing as ever. With this maturity comes sentimentality and even a hint of sadness, best expressed on the maudlin 'Tallulah' and the gorgeous 'Some People Say'. Any fears that the fun factor may have dipped are extinguished by the summery jangle of tracks like 'Northern Lights', 'Europe' and 'Still Young', although lyrically these songs are as thoughtful as ever.

In an echo of early track 'Dear Stephen Hawking', it's fellow hero of Science 'Neil Armstrong' who gets a song title namecheck this time, but taking the winner's medal is undoubtedly recent single 'Capricornia' which will surely be contender for indiepop song of the year. Not that it's head and shoulders above the rest, as 'Europe' is defiantly consistent and sounds like a band coming into their prime. Mature doesn't mean old and it doesn't mean boring, it means fully developed, and those two words encapsulate this record perfectly. With the same lovable style and the same splendid way with a tune, Allo Darlin' have compromised nothing, including any notions of indie credibility, and on their second offering it feels like they're only just hitting their stride.

Allo Darlin's website

Buy the album

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