Played back-to-back alongside their first album, the most immediately noticeable difference on London-based indie-pop outfit Allo Darlin‘s sophomore release Europe is a much more subdued guitar tone. On their self-titled 2010 debut, the guitar melodies took the foreground in the jangle-pop tradition of early R.E.M. and Guadalcanal Diary. This time around, the quartet plays with the same driving pop sound, but with a little more twang. From the non-stop foot-stomping single “Capricornia” to the ukulele-driven ballad “Tallulah,” the moods of these songs cover a wide range, but are held together tightly by the passive yet consistent facelift given by the slightly subdued production.
Europe‘s individual tracks each boast a lot to sink one’s teeth into as well. Allo Darlin’ is a talented group, but, as is common in many current indie-pop acts, you won’t really hear any solos or intensely elaborate builds. However, what you do get are four consistently talented musicians, winding together some tight pop tunes. The album’s biggest drawback is that the arrangements sound a lot like early Belle & Sebastian, and frontwoman Elizabeth Morris sounds an awful lot like a more passive Jenny Lewis. While these could also be taken as compliments, ultimately it would suit Allo Darlin’ better to branch out a bit on the next one, much in the way groups like Mynabirds and Fleet Foxes have taken the tropes of indie folk and elaborated on them a bit to create something new.
Still, tracks like “Still Young” and “My Sweet Friend” show potential of Morris’ individual poetic voice, and on Europe, Allo Darlin’ succeeds at providing 10 well-crafted pop reflections.
Belle & Sebastian – The Boy with the Arab Strap
Rilo Kiley – Take Offs & Landings
The Lucksmiths – Warmer Corners
Stream: Allo Darlin’ – “Capricornia”