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Wolf Whistling Optional
on 17 June 2010
If Slow Club's long-player disappointed, it was mainly due to its watering down of moments of indie-pop perfection with lesser retreads. Allo Darlin' have at least one foot in Slow Club's camp, but happily their self-titled debut is the more consistent. Musically light, and with a few alternating male-female duets, the similarities are nevertheless plenty.
London-based Australian Elizabeth Morris fronts the band's infinitesimally twee, but thoroughly charming, indie, and along with one fellow compatriot and two more local lads they repeatedly land soft punches somewhere between the cute jangle of Belle & Sebastian and The Shop Assistants. And it's all delivered via Morris's fragile timbre, the frailties in which culminate on "If Loneliness Was Art" when she sings, "Somehow you've convinced me that I'm pretty when I'm not".
The Allo Darlin' catalogue speaks of harmless, summery tails - exploits in Paris, holidays by Swedish lakes. Yet, Allo Darlin' are resolutely a product of the UK, and specifically the London they all call home. In the laid back "Let's Go Swimming", which details that time in Sweden, constant withering comparison is made to "All of the punks in Camden ... / all of the hipsters in Shoreditch ... / all of the bankers in Moorgate".
The bass-line borrow in "Silver Dollars" seems to belong to "Brown Eyes Girl" allowing for the album's breezy qualities to develop. There is also a seam of tristesse interwoven into the band's fabric, sometimes surfacing unexpectedly, and at other times more explicitly. On "My Heart Is A Drummer", for example, Morris takes the part of an unnamed partner answering her own questions about smoking. "Baby, my heart is as strong as a drummer" the unknown partner replies. Morris's response is to state, perhaps tellingly, that she is stronger still.
It's fair however to say that there is an element of novelty to the record as first exemplified by the band's questionable name, but also in some of the saccharine lyrics. Amid minimal ukulele and pedal steel accompaniment, "Heartbeat Chilli" talks freely of culinary coquettishness, "I was in the kitchen ... making chilli / you came in with an onion and got dicin' / it seems silly that this chilli has two heartbeats in the recipe".
Though imperfect, Allo Darlin' deliver their material impeccably, flying flawlessly in the face of the annoying whimsy to which it would have been easy to succumb.
Advised downloads: "Let's Go Swimming" and "The Polaroid Song".