Allo Darlin' | Europe

Slumberland (2012)
By GARRETT MARTIN  |  April 10, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

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It's good to hear a band grow. Like Allo Darlin's first effort, Europe is full of catchy pop songs, and Elizabeth Morris's vocals are still heart-tuggingly direct and intimate. But her lyrics have improved greatly since that 2010 debut, with fewer of the cloying pop-culture references and indie-pop platitudes. On album stand-outs like "Capricornia" and "Tallulah," her words nail the tricky balance between personal and universal. There's enough specific detail to forge their own identity and still resonate with anybody who's ever missed the people and places they grew up with, or realized that there's a "best by" date to youthful abandon. (Or maybe I'm just especially susceptible to nostalgic references to the year 1998.) Morris also makes the ukulele work, and not as some Urban Outfitters store come to musical life. The uke is the only instrument on "Tallulah," but it's essentially background, a minimalist complement to Morris's voice and words, which are so tender and aching that they make you want to immediately go hug something. Like the Go-Betweens or the Field Mice, Europe is top-notch indie-pop, with upbeat music and literate lyrics coated in a wistfulness that can be debilitating if you indulge in it too often.

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