Belle and Sebastian broke my heart.
In the late nineties they were one of my favorite bands. I was in love with their literate indie folk, their solid songwriting, and the beautiful delicacy of their music. 1998’s The Boy With The Arab Strap and 2000’s Fold Your Arms Child, You Walk Like A Peasant are two of my favorite albums. Then they realized that they were in a rut, and went in a decidedly more pop direction with 2003’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress. I respected their need to change things up, but I didn’t like their new sound. I skipped 2006’s The Life Pursuit, and based on what I’ve heard from their new album, I’m going to give that a pass as well.
Luckily, Allo Darlin’ have come to fill the void in my life for romantic-but-melancholy indie pop that Belle and Sebastian can no longer fill. Allo Darlin’ are the product of Elizabeth Morris, a Londoner by way of Australia who has been making music for the last few years. She started writing songs on a ukulele, which gives some indication of the twee leanings of her music. Allo Darlin’ had a couple hit singles last year, and have just released their self-titled debut.
The music and lyrics capture the delicious pain of being young, broke, and in love. Morris’s lyrics paint pictures of moments in time. On album-opener “Dreaming,” she sings:
Will you go out with me tonight
Lose it on a disco floor
Frost on the window
It’s freezing out here on the pavement
But here in your arms
Her lyrics are full of clever lines that show she is as good at writing prose as she is at writing songs. “If loneliness was an art, I could hang you from the wall in some Berlin Hall,” she tells a crush on “If Loneliness Was an Art.” “I’m even starting to wish that I’d finished a legal vocation,” she admits on “Silver Dollars.” “My life would be dull, but at least I could go on vacation.”
Morris has a beautiful, wistful voice that is perfectly accompanied by a solid band. The production offers a full but restrained sound, similar to Belle and Sebastian’s earlier work. Every note, every line, and every drumbeat seem perfectly in place. The uptempo songs are catchy and bouncy, and there are several slower songs that nicely round out the album. While at times Morris is too precious for her own good, for the most part this album hits its mark. Allo Darlin’ are a delightful group, and the perfect dose of cloudy sunshine on a cool fall day.Powered by Sidelines