Allo Darlin'

Allo Darlin'

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Allo Darlin' are a quintessential, dyed-in-the-wool twee pop band (and a pedigreed one at that -- frontwoman Elizabeth Morris plays in Tender Trap with twee icon Amelia Fletcher, while bassist Bill Botting is a member of Darren Hayman's Secondary Modern) but their potential appeal extends far beyond the typically homespun, insider-y indie pop scene, since their music conveys all the genre's sweetness and enthusiasm without (or at least without too much of) the sappy infantilism and amateurish shambling that turn off most listeners of the genre. On the basis of their self-titled 2010 debut, it's not hard to imagine this London outfit finding the kind of widespread devotion enjoyed by leading lights like Camera Obscura, the Lucksmiths, or even Belle & Sebastian. Certainly, Allo Darlin' is most reminiscent of these artists' earlier, scrappier efforts, but the sophistication is there, most crucially, in Morris' songs, which strike just the right balance of clever and heartfelt, wittily specific, and broadly relatable. And, without exception, magnificently tuneful. Vocally, she's got all the charm of, say, Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell, but with a much more upbeat, outgoing personality (and her Aussie-via-London accent -- even just her pronunciation of the word "telephone" -- is worth melting for). The band never stray far from the Platonic template of crisp, vibrantly produced '60s-style guitar pop, with tinges of soul, country, and Afro-pop, generous use of ukulele and lap steel, and a healthy sprinkling of ba-bas and sha-la-las. The playing is consistently strong and, with a few tender-hearted exceptions, briskly bouncy and grooving -- particularly apt for the first three songs, which are about going out dancing (though they're also about heavenly embraces, Polaroid photographs, and youthful cash deficiency, respectively.) Other pivotal topics covered include falling in love (in an amusement park; while making chili) and listening (and making references) to pop music. In the time-honored tradition of the Pooh Sticks, Morris fills her songs with canny cultural nods: lifting lines from Weezer, quoting Johnny Cash, and Doris Day, citing fellow twees the Just Joans. (Meanwhile "Woody Allen" --which switches to film references for a change --is melodically reminiscent of the Magnetic Fields' "Strange Powers," while the blissfully lovely "Let's Go Swimming" lyrically echoes their "All the Umbrellas in London.") Maybe best of all, "My Heart Is a Drummer" reps for Graceland: "we know it's everybody's favorite/deep down in the place where music makes you happiest." Clearly, that's a place that Morris and Allo Darlin' know extremely well.

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