The essence of Allo Darlin’s erudite, sincere pop music is contained in the pronunciation of “Jägermeister” that takes place just a few seconds into the record, a wrangling that stuffs the word into a rhyme with “Spanish bar”: it’s a little goofy, sure, but it’s unabashed, contributes to your sense of character and place, and even feels a little bold in its own way. (You really need to commit to pronouncing a word like that.) Those are all qualities that end up characterizing the band’s third record, We Come From the Same Place. Formed by a group of Australian expats in London around the turn of the decade, the band began their career with two strong records chock-full of quirky, culturally savvy songs, flecked by lead singer Elizabeth Morris’ ukulele and her various passions: Johnny Cash, Silver Jews, “Woody Allen”. And while the band has some obvious sonic antecedents—the bookish, thickly accented pop of groups like Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura, the finely detailed English scenes of the Clientele—those records were proof positive that the potential for pastiche can always be transcended by quality songwriting.
The band’s logistics have become significantly more complicated since the release of the 2012 sophomore effort Europe: Morris got married and left London for Florence, a change that specifically impacted the composition of the album’s last three songs. The transitional period served as excellent songwriting fodder for a band that’s taken with the concept of change, whether it’s in regards to time, location, or relationship status. They excel at finding glory and drama in transitional periods where characters’ perspectives begin to shift and warp, and they manage to lend relatively mundane activities like drinking with your friends—there’s a surprising amount of alcohol mentioned in these songs—a romance and significance that demands your investment.
Morris has a great touch when working with scene setting and small pieces of imagery—a row of crappy student bars on the rollicking “Kings and Queens”, a foreign cityscape at night on “Santa Maria Novella”—which makes the album feel fully inhabited and lively. All of the world-building culminates in frank, tightly written kernels of wisdom that sneak up on you and take your breath away. On “Kings and Queens”, Morris admits that “I wanted to impress you/ And I think you knew”; on “Santa Maria Novella”, written after her move to Florence, she reflects: “And I know that no one likes a tourist/ I feel like I’m one here.” Perhaps the most devastating line is the one that hammers home the breathtaking “Angela”, a would-be standard love story flipped into a tale of friendship and support and hammered home with the following couplet: “The hardest thing we ever have to learn / Is when those we love don’t love us in return.” It’s easy to find your own life detailed in these songs, and they’re helped along by arrangements that are brisk, propulsive, and remarkably unadorned, allowing the crackling drumming and pristine guitar melodies to shine.
We Come From the Same Place is at its weakest when it occasionally slips away from real emotional impact into more cloying and saccharine territory. “Bright Eyes” follows aforementioned highlight “Angela”, and while guitarist Paul Rains gives it his all in a duet with Morris, his thick, sweet voice atop big, bright chords carries the potential to induce a sugar coma, as does the chipped ukulele and severe tenderness of “Heartbeat”. It’s almost impossible to imagine those who like their pop music sharp-edged to take to this album’s rounded corners. Nonetheless, the title of We Come From the Same Place sums up its comforts nicely: it’s a warm, deeply rooted, familiar statement indicative of a real, earned connection.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1u39ypN