Unpopular Advent 2014 - Day 23: Allo Darlin’ - ‘We Come From The Same Place'
It seems inexplicable now that in 2010 I was singularly unimpressed with the debut album by Allo Darlin’, although my 2010 advent entry appears to capture both that initial ambivalence and the subsequent conversion in fairly convincing fashion. 2012’s ‘Europe’ set managed to convince me just that little bit more, with it’s rather more polished and filled out sound helping move the group out of some kind of hellish twee indie ghetto I had imagined them inhabiting previously. Jumping forward another two years and this year’s ‘We Come From The Same Place’ saw Allo Darlin’ finally flourish into the kind of group I could willingly place on the top shelf of contemporary Pop groups.
This is not to say that Elizabeth Morris has not written some exquisite songs in the past. She most certainly has. And it’s not to say that the sound of cagey uncertainty and vulnerability is not appealing (it most certainly can be). It’s just to say that only on ‘We Come From The Same Place’ did it really sound as though Allo Darlin’ were a group in full control, blending strength and fragility in a marvellously artful manner.
Put simply, there were simply more gloriously memorable melodies and more memorably glorious lines in ‘We Come From The Same Place’ than in any previous Allo Darlin’ set. There was the brittle melancholy of ‘Angela’ with it’s spectral guitar line conjuring memories of Deebank and Blueboy set alongside those heartbreaking and warming words about how "the hardest thing we ever have to learn / Is when those we love don’t love us in return”. There was the rampaging love/hate duel of ‘Half Heart Necklace’ and that killer opening line of “the lights of this town spell H-E-L-L” and surely we’ve all been there and felt that? And was that whole half-heart necklace thing a reference to 'Twin Peaks' or was that just me projecting? Then what about that marvellous line about lips being sweet from the Juicy Fruit in the peerless ‘Crickets In The Rain’, outdone only by the one about reading Joan Didion in the dark. Honestly, ‘Crickets In The Rain’ was just such a wonderful Pop moment and hey, did you want to shed a wee tear like me when Elizabeth sang that line about how loving someone was like how "everything you had ever lost had come back” (inspired in itself by a line in a poem by Nayyirah Waheed)? Or what about coffee cups leavening rings on your A-Z in ‘History Lessons’, or those crystalline guitar strings of fairly lights in the title track and that line about just trying to make it through another Tuesday? And I know we’ve all been there.
Finally, how about ‘Kings And Queens’ with it’s transformative punch and it’s exquisite grasp of how it feels to be young and full of fire and passion? “They can call us what they want” sang Elizabeth before adding “but we know that we are the kings and queens of love” in so doing capturing the essence of awkward, proud and damaged outsiders everywhere. All of which means that ultimately ‘We Come From The Same Place’ was all about exactly what it’s title suggested: a warming fire about which to huddle; a beacon for those once young and foolish, now grown up but still muddling through, making it up as we go.