Friday, September 16, 2016

Goodbye Darlin'

Earlier today, everyone's favourite indie poppers Allo Darlin' announced on Facebook that they will be calling it quits after one final show in London this December. This news made me sad (not least because I was under the impression that they were currently in the studio, beavering away on a new album) and so I'd like to offer this short tribute to Allo Darlin' and, in particular, their superb second album Europe.

I am not a particularly keen traveller. My parents took me on many foreign holidays when I was little - Italy, Portugal, even Australia - but since I became an adult and assumed responsibility for my own movements, I've made little effort to continue adding pins to my map. In the last five years, I've been to exactly three places outside of Great Britain: Porto (for a music festival), Barcelona (ditto), and Copenhagen (where I ate at one of the best restaurants in the world courtesy of my uncle, who lives in Denmark and sometimes reads this blog - hi Mark!). While my friends have traversed the globe, slept in hostels and met all sorts of people in all sorts of places, I've mostly stayed put here in Cardiff and observed their adventures through the window of Facebook. And I've mostly been perfectly happy to do so, partially because I've got a lot of things keeping me here (a relationship, a full-time job, my family, a fantastic local record shop) and partially because I'm just not of a travelling nature.

All of that being said, there's one album that has proven consistently capable of making me forget my aversion to check-in desks and unfamiliar public transport systems, and that's Europe by Allo Darlin'. This record is like a key that unlocks a quite uncharacteristic feeling of wanderlust in me; it's very difficult to listen to songs like Northern Lights and the title track without wanting to zip over to the continent and see what's going on in all those other places you've heard about. Even the sad, spare Tallulah triggers a yearning for the sort of rich melancholy you can't really feel in your own homeland.

Best of all, though, are the two pulsating tracks that occupy slots 8 and 9 of Europe's tracklist: The Letter and Still Young. I saw Allo Darlin' in Cardiff shortly before they released this album, and right away these two songs struck me as something special. They are imbued with a kind of insistence - a desperation, almost - that really sets them apart, and they more than any of their neighbours will have you itching to grab life by its goddamn shoulders: to go somewhere and do something while you're still here.

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