Allo Darlin’ is an indie-pop twee quartet currently calling London their home. Their main singer and ukulele player, Elizabeth Morris is Australian, as is bassist Bill Botting. The other half of the band is from Kent, England. They’ve released two albums to date, including the Slumberland Records release from last month.
This is a band that I kept hearing things about, but I just listened to them for the first time a few weeks ago. Even though I had heard good things, I wasn’t so sure about their name. It’s a silly reason to avoid listening to a band who has gotten great reviews. However, it’s something that I do.
Almost anything that’s on Slumberland is good enough for me. When their new record started to make waves over there in advance of its release, I finally decided to give them a listen. I don’t have a cute story about which song I heard first and how it made me drop my beverage. Nothing like that. I do remember, though, after listening to a few songs, that they remind me of Morris’ countrymen The Lucksmiths. Something about the clever lyric writing. Something about the unmistakable Aussie-ness of it.
Before I even paid attention to the lyrics of today’s song, I loved it. Maybe I liked the simplicity of it. The uke and the vocals, all with a little bit of reverb. It’s not as poppy and fun as most of their other songs. Not by miles. However, I love it even more.
After I paid attention to the lyrics, it’s pretty thoroughly Australian. It’s an ode to the things that are important. In Elizabeth Morris’ case, a lot of those things are back in Australia. She pines a bit for some of the things that she used to take for granted. It’s actually a bit heartbreaking. First, the song. Then I’ll explain.
It’s a song that’s fundamentally about reminiscing about driving around from one coastal Australian town to another. She’s caught up with old friends, and is perhaps having a tough time coming to grips with her new English life. Or at least having a hard time reconciling her new life with her old one.
And you were searching something to sing to
As the radio played another terrible song
But lucky for me, you found the tape with Tallulah on
And it’s been a long time
Since I’ve seen all my old friends
But I really love my new friends
I feel I’ve known them a long while
“Tallulah”, of course, is a reference to the album Tallulah by the legendary Australian alternative rock band The Go-Betweens. I’ll admit that at first I thought it was a reference to the English twee band Tallulah Gosh (pre-Heavenly). However, the Go-Betweens makes infinitely more sense.
Then there’s a bit about exchanging letters with an old friend (perhaps an old flame). And I absolutely love the line:
So I sent you a postcard from Berlin of a fat man eating a sausage
It hid the fact that I was hiding
I love that. “Hid the fact that I was hiding”. Hiding from what? I don’t know. I don’t care. I love that line.
Here’s one of the bits that really gets me:
I’m wondering if I’ve already heard all the songs that’ll mean something
And I’m wondering if I’ve already met all the people that’ll mean something.
Yes. She’s carrying a torch for the days when she’d frolic around the Aussie beaches with her old friends, listening to The Go-Betweens. Those songs and those people mean the most to her, even if she’s made new friends.
In the song, she says she daydreams about all those places: St. Lucia, Surfers Paradise, St. Kilda, Coolangatta, Bondi Beach, Coogee Bay. After reeling off those places, she drops the heavy artillery.
And I wonder if you would wanna go there with me
When I’m finished over here
If you’re not finished with me
She’s worried that when she gets over the “move to London to become an indie rock star” phase, her old friends will have moved on with their lives and she won’t be able to frolic on those beaches and listen to the Go-Betweens in the car with the windows rolled down.
Maybe its about the fear of old friends turning their backs on Miss Fancy Trousers. Maybe it’s about trying to rekindle an old flame. Either way, it’s about trying to get something back.
That “if you’re not finished with me” bit kills me.
The rest of the album is much more poppy and much more full-band-y. This song isn’t representative of the album. It’s just the one that I like the most today.
Allo Darlin’ came through my neck of the woods a few weeks ago, but I didn’t go. I’m sort of sad that I didn’t, but I know that they’ll be back again before too long.
Buy Europe from the Slumberland Records webstore here. I highly recommend it, and I’ll say now that it’s practically a lock for my year-end lists. Listen to the whole thing via their soundcloud page. Seriously, though. Buy a copy. And while you’re in the Slumberland webstore, you should pick up some of their newer releases. Today, I’ll suggest the longplayer from Veronica Falls and the EP by Brave Irene.