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Let's Keep Having Dreams Like These
Forget the word twee. It has nothing to do with Allo Darlin’s sophomore album Europe. Sure, the England-based band comes from the warped-but-sensitive indie pop school of Belle and Sebastian and The Magnetic Fields. And, yeah, frontwoman Elizabeth Morris sings about love and stars and wishes, but the Australian songwriter hasn’t got any illusions about them. She’s not a cynical lyricist, just a realistic one.
And that’s the strength and beauty of Europe. It’s a collection of stories that all take place in the real world. Morris’s young, restless characters live on this Earth, where the stars are almost infinitely far away, some wishes come true but some others don’t, and love happens. The only difference is that on Europe, it happens to bittersweet melody that imparts a compelling sense of meaning.
Admittedly, Allo Darlin’s self-titled 2010 debut sounded a little too much like Belle and Sebastian, but on this follow up they’ve carved out a distinct indie pop niche, one the proves the genre is alive, well, and living in London. Their sound is folkier and more American than Belle and Sebastian, and though the lyrics are just as full of rich detail, this is Morris’s cosmos and not Stuart Murdoch’s.
This release is really more developed in every way than the debut. It’s more varied, for one thing. “Some People Say” actually has a melancholy country tang to it, while “Still Young,” among others, has a popping rock beat. And there’s a sunlit weightlessness to the whole album that recalls The Sundays and unites the diverse moods. It’s a bigger sounding album too, with arrangements the bear repeated listenings very well. But if you’ve been a fan since Morris’s solo ukulele days, don’t worry, the old, familiar four string turns up on a few tracks.
On “Tallulah” Morris sings “I’m wondering if I’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something.” If you’ve been worrying about that yourself, Europe has the potential to relieve that fear. It’s full of songs that mean something, and will undoubtedly come to mean many different things to a lot of different people. It’s music to make memories to and to heal old wounds by. The single,”Capricornia,” with the refrain “I keep having these dreams,” especially creeps into the subconscious and sets something right in there.