Thursday, 25 September 2014

Allo Darlin' - We Come From the Same Place (Fortuna Pop!)

"Nothing feels like it did before, and I am grateful for that," sings Elizabeth Morris on 'Crickets in the rain', and with that the downbeat tiredness (but still beautiful) of 'Europe' is put to bed. Locked away. It's time to move on, and life is good.

Allo Darlin', perhaps more than any other indiepop band (if, indeed, that's what they are), have been so closely watched over the last four years. Births, break-ups, marriages, moves and a triumphant emotional comeback-of-sorts at this year's Indietracks - all over the space of three albums. 'We come from the same place' is the perfect, rounded end to their first three albums, in which they've not so much grown up in the limelight, as had it shone so brightly on them.

'We come from the same place' is the sound of a band on top of their game - a band who can write just about any song you want them to. 'Angela' is a deeply delicate hymn to love, but is followed up by new single 'Bright Eyes' - the romping, stomping duet between Morris and Paul Rains (whose guitar playing is the real star of this album, by the way). A call-and-answer masterpiece, it's the feelgood hit of the Autumn: "It feels better hanging out with you." Indeed.

Elsewhere, on the title track, Morris's voice, not for the first or last time in the band's time together, soars and then breaks and then does that thing that invokes such emotion that it's hard not to believe anything is possible. It's the past four years synthesised into one perfect four-and-a-half minutes.

Morris is again to the fore in the reflective 'History lessons', in which she rails against nostalgia and vents her frustration that we can't and don't celebrate the here and now and, for that matter, the future. The indiepop scene would do well to take notice.

There's even a hint of Britpop in 'Half heart necklace', which, if not exactly a straight down the line rock track, gives Rains the chance to sketch distorted shapes with his guitar as Morris tells the tale of her childhood back in Australia.

Back to 'Crickets in the Rain', though, which is the real star of the show. Perhaps harking back to older Allo Darlin' songs (at least musically), it's the one with the killer chorus, and another in which the vocals crackle and spark just enough to keep your eyes moistening. And there's that guitar leading everyone a very merry dance, as again, Morris puts nostalgia in its place. No looking back now.

'Another year' ends the album, and still the themes are travel and moving on and not going back. If this song about leaving on a plane is a metaphor for the whole album, or whether it's simply a tale about moving to Italy - it matters not. Sure, there's self-doubt here, but, y'know... onwards.

Much has happened to Allo Darlin' since their self-titled album bounced into the world back in 2010. That they're still around, writing songs as complete and life-affirming as can be found on this flawless record, is something to cherish. Always looking forward, always moving on - and thank goodness for that.

Allo Darlin play The Maze in Nottingham on 19th November, as part of a UK tour. 'We Come from the Same Place' is out on 6th October.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Debutantes - S/T ep (Soft Power)

Oh, the pop music, the pop music these people make. The Debutantes are Leon and Sarah and Paula from September Girls, and this is their perfect debut.

Whereas September Girls are all dark menace, The Debutantes are at the more blissed-out end of fuzzy, scuzzy pop. Opener, 'Burn the merchandise' revels in its prime-time pop-chime of Jesus and Mary Chain, whilst also hinting at Frankie Rose. The Be My Baby (there must be a more technical term than this) drums only add to the lengthening of the summer as the leaves fall.

'Gentleman's wash' is all new-wave atmospherics, with all feel of 'Japanese Whispers'-era Cure in there, and it's pretty much the jewel in the crown here. It's all fruitless yearning, like most of the best pop songs, and is followed up by the equally sensitive 'Kids', which is just gorgeous, like a freshly made bed with a bottle of wine under each pillow.

'X&Y' is both vital and meek and a rallying cry, and a sob into a pillow. It kicks out every remaining jam, and then comes back for seconds, whilst closer 'Adam's apple' is as near to September Girls as get through five fresh as a daisy tracks.

It's a treat to listen to a new band be clever with pop music. There's a subtlety at work here which is often lost in the eagerness to get your music out 

Now, if only Soft Power would stop releasing these things on cassette, which I have no way of playing. Still, you can get yours from 11th October, listen here, and watch here:

Gentlemans Wash from Leon Butler on Vimeo.