Allo Darlin - Derby Silk Mill September 1st 2012 Live Review 2012
The main criticisms one can have of the indie scene (think Indietracks, not New Cross) are a lack of variety and a near absence of discretion. Though many who frequent haunts adorned with cardigans and floral skirts will mutter about preferring something a little different, there is a prominent scene built around what is often acceptance of the average for merely social reasons. Allo Darlin are one of the few bands that, due to such a universally positive appreciation for anything fitting under the umbrella of twee, have gained enough attention to tour the country to capacity venues larger than sheds, and whilst this can be accredited to the strength of the London quartet's material, there still exists an issue of repetition, both on record and live.
Over five years Elizabeth Morris and co have honed their sound and charm to a tee, leaving the first exposure to their marriage of ukelele melodies and jangling guitars to cooed female vocals to be somewhat magical, but each further visit somewhat less so. Songs like 'My Heart Is A Drummer' tick all the right boxes for a band in the Camera Obscura mould, all longing lyrics and awkward glances wrought with retrospection and melancholy, but there is very little to separate one ditty from another; each one rides at the same tempo as the one preceding it, where the Glaswegian sextet that foreshadow them will often change a gear or throw in a curveball. Before the finale of 'Tallulah', an acoustic ballad of undeniable understated beauty on which Elizabeth rejoins the stage alone, there is very little distinction between songs or indeed to prior performances, even down to the same casual dropping of references to local bands or clubnights.
You feel perhaps that Allo Darlin's support for the evening, The Rosie Taylor Project, would be more fitting as a headliner. Whilst the two bands share a similar palette the London based six-piece incorporate many more shades, willing to paint with darker tones to add suspense or hints of tension. The assonance and rolling horns that burrow under the interplaying male/vocals of 'Sleep' bring to mind a more ambitious Beach House, or Doves circa-Kingdom Of Rust, and the burst of pace at its climax is a refreshing hook in reference to the nights' lead act, whilst 'A Good Cafe On George Street' has a bookish, sixties vibe that may equate to Jens Lekman commandeering Copeland at their sparsest.
Their set is helped immensely by the pristine sound levels achieved by promoters Holy Smokes in the unusual setting of the Derby Silk Mill, a high-ceilinged rectangular room with plenty of 'dead space' that would most often see such a band be suffocated by reverb and high-end. As they choose to do so, they are allowed to bloom and grow, whilst their superiors merely play within themselves.
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