Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2010-12-03


Allo Darlin': Allo Darlin' (Fortuna Pop, 2010) "Twee" is such a screwy synonym for "concrete." True, transplanted Londoner Elizabeth Morris does sport a fetching murmur that's rather sexy if like me you're attracted to cinemaphiles who appreciate kissing, and her attendant g-b-d do tend toward strum and clatter. But she's not as dreamy or small as "twee" implies--her "heart is as strong as a drummer," exactly. She's rooted, sensible, manifestly on top of the facts and possibilities of her life as it is, which since she's still young and relatively privileged include cooking chili with her sweety and swimming in Sweden in the summertime. In short, she's getting it while she can and knows it. If this band thing doesn't work out--as it probably will for a time, because she has the tunes--she can put off finishing that "legal vocation." Then she'll go back to school and join a professional class that doesn't command as much slack as it used to either. A-

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard: Old Devils (Bloodshot, 2010) "Live for next week/Live for last year," the 52-year-old advises devilishly and also oldly in the lefthand panel of a triptych about aging that's completed by the unfinished "Book of Your Life" and the killing "Getting Used to Uselessness." After that, fittingly but dishearteningly (although under the circumstances that's fitting too), the songcraft wends its way gradually downhill; not even the title track provides much of a rise. Only then comes a finale called "Strange Ways to Win Wars" and Langford is on top of things again--not young because he's not that kind of liar, just strong and clear-eyed as he quietly and suggestively surveys our disheartening politics: "And no one is spared, no one is spared/No one is spared, no one is spared." B+

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