The term “twee pop” can be a double-edged sword when discussing new bands or records. On one hand, you may like sweet melodies with shambolic guitars. On the other hand, it seems to be an underhanded compliment – sure, it’s got melody. But those people really can’t play their instruments in tune (something along those lines). In all honesty, it kind of reminds me of my adopted regions ability to be passive aggressive (I will state it again – I’m in the Pac NW to bring it some East Coast flavor!)
If I had to sit and list my favorite bands that fall into the “twee pop” group, it would cover a whole range of bands and music (some that I’m not sure could truly be called “twee pop”). Looking through my hard drive I have albums by Primal Scream, Television Personalities, The Times, The Field Mice, Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, The Cat’s Miaow, Belle & Sebastian….I think you get the point. The Urban Dictionary‘s definition of “twee pop” is unintentionally hilarious:
“Coyly precious indie pop, generally driven by jangly guitars and adenoidal or high-pitched vocals. The name “twee” was first applied to indie pop groups in England in the 1980s, like Heavenly, and was not obviously a compliment. At best, it was an affectionate insult. In the U.K., calling something “twee” suggests that it is affectedly dainty. To the extent there is currently a twee pop revival, that revival is mostly taking place in the U.S. and Scandinavia, where no one knows that they should care about the pejorative implications of the word.”
I came across the band Allo’ Darlin completely unintentionally after reading a review that really blasted their “twee pop” style and sickening sweet melodies. Honestly, (as happens in most instances like this with me) the more I read why the reviewer wasn’t impressed by the album, the more I wanted to listen to it. Now about that name (an unusual band name, even for my collection), the story goes something like this: lead singer Elizabeth Morris was working in Soho at the time (the London version) and everyday she would walk past the market sellers and the sellers would call out to her “Allo Darlin’!”. I have to say, with this 2nd full length, Ms. Morris and company have given us a perfect soundtrack for the summer of 2012.
The album starts off with “Neil Armstrong” (strangely, the 2nd song I’ve heard named after the astronaut. The 1st being by Babybird). Beautiful vocals with chiming guitars to kick things off. The full band kicks in and we are listening to a perfect pop anthem (or is a “twee pop” anthem?). Key lyrics “I find myself pining for you…/Well I am tired of feeling confused”
“Europe” starts off with a Jonathan Richman-ish guitar with emotional singing from Elizabeth Morris. The band joins in, giving the song an uplifting feeling, it really makes you want to sing-a-long. Dare I say, this feels like a Belle & Sebastian song (from their more twee, Tigermilk days). Key lyric “…and there’s nothing left we need to prove”
“Tallulah” immediately had me thinking of the great band Talulah Gosh just because of the title (which is somewhat completely unrelated to the song at hand). This song is a ukulele based treat, beautiful and emotive vocals, with lyrics that tug at your heart-strings “”I wonder if you would wanna go there with me / When I’m finished over here / If you’re not finished with me.”
“Still Young” brings some heavier guitar sounds and again has a very strong melody. Really just a pop / garage rock style song with some fun lyrics “”let’s bring it back, let’s bring it back / ’cause we’re still young”
This is a really great record. Don’t be afraid of the “twee pop” label or that the the name of the band is Allo Darlin’ – this group means business, and has the tunes to back up their convictions. They also deserve to be a household name (which actually seems possible based on the mostly positive vibes associated with this album). Go ahead and buy this record – you won’t be disappointed (I feel I also must mention that this was also released on a limited edition cassette format. I no longer have a cassette player, but hey…to each his own).
Verdict: Twee Yeah!
01 – Neil Armstrong
02 – Capricornia
03 – Europe
04 – Some People Say
05 – Northern Lights
06 – Wonderland
07 – Tallulah
08 – The Letter
09 – Still Young
10 – My Sweet Friend