Allo Darlin': Europe
Normally if I have been looking forward to something for a long while, when it arrives it rarely lives up to the expectation. 'Europe', the second album by Fortuna POP! label band Allo Darlin' is most definitely the exception to the rule.
Taking all the best bits from their fine debut, singer-songwriter Elizabeth Morris and her trusty cohorts, guitarist Paul Rains, drummer Mike Collins and bassist Bill Botting have created a near perfect follow-up that will not only delight existing fans but should switch on a whole lot more.
Underpinned by Morris' deeply personal lyrics, that have a wonderful knack of drawing the listener in, the bulk of the songs are pure indie-pop that whilst not showing a massive progression from their self-titled debut are all the better for it.
Opening song 'Neil Armstrong' benefits from a warm slice of Americana before recent single 'Capricornia' allows Morris to reminisce about her native Queensland, mixing the finest elements of vintage Go-Betweens and the vocal style of the late Kirsty MacColl to great effect. Indeed the way Morris' lyrics open out into clever tales are very much akin to the Go-Betweens at their fluent best.
The title track, which is also the next single to be lifted from the album, is another perfect pop song that despite being written under the spectre of visa issues for Morris is actually positive and uplifting, while the slower 'Some People Say' is simply a beautiful love song.
The highlight is probably the oldest song on the album. Having being written a couple of years back, 'Tallulah', is the perfect showcase of Morris' songwriting skills and stunning voice as she delivers a heartfelt lyric over the gentle strumming of her ukelele. Memories of Australia are at the fore and the reference to listening to the Go-Betweens seminal album 'Tallulah' in her "old university car" give the song its title.
'The Letter' is only marginally behind it in the quality stakes, but is a guitar driven pop nugget as opposed to the softer 'Tallulah'. The lyric is equally impressive with the intriguing "Taking for granted where we'd been, we found solace in the shattered dreams of England" line in particular.
Very reminiscent of Brighton band the Poguns, 'Still Young' is another rattling pop tune before the calmer 'My Sweet Friend' brings the album to a excellent close.
In the lyrics to 'Tallulah' Morris wonders if she has already heard all the songs that will mean something. If Allo Darlin' continue to produce songs like these on Europe, I for one know that I haven't.