Speaking of being sceptical... You know, I hated Allo Darlin’ when I first heard them. I don’t remember what song it was, but it got my back up. ‘Identikit Twee Indie Shit’ are the words that probably spat out of my mouth. Listening back now to some of their eponymous set I admit I still feel the same. There is too much of a reliance on that weary Camera Obscura wannabe sound (and yes, Camera Obscura are way up there in my chart of most appallingly boring live act ever), there is that infuriating indie anaemia in some of the songs and yes, there are beards and hipster chic in evidence and yet... and yet... When things are properly, intentionally stripped back there sparkles a core of gorgeous, quirky folk pop. ‘Heartbeat Chilli’ and ‘My Heart Is A Drummer’ work a charm, but it is ‘Let’s Go Swimming’ with it’s whale song guitar weeping over muted, stroked drums that I return to most from the set. Is it worth the admission price alone? You know what, I think it might just be.
In truth though I would never have heard the album if it had not been for my friend Tim very kindly passing me a copy of the first Hangover Lounge 10” back in the summer. I told him then that I hated Allo Darlin’ but he assured me that I would love ‘Tallulah’. Who would have guessed that come year end I would chose it ahead of The Claim’s ‘Old’ from the same 10” EP for this advent? But as wonderful as it was to have a new Claim recording, it is ‘Tallulah’ that has seduced me the most with it’s plaintive ukelele and lines about old Go-Betweens albums and bars playing the Maytals.
And see, that’s what you can’t really guard against, isn’t it? You can put up the barriers and strap on the blinkers. You can think you’ve trained the heart to be cold and hard in an attempt to guard against pain and then you’re nailed by a reference that pierces the armour like a burning scalpel blade through the snow.