Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-05-01


Allo Darlin': Europe (Slumberland, 2012) The magic of the debut wasn't just that thing that happens with young bands when everything is new and bliss is just around the corner. It's that Elizabeth Morris recognized this illusion as an illusion and entered wholeheartedly into its ebullience anyway. But now the Old World's cold weather and cramped spaces are getting her down--her most irresistible new song, taken solo with ukulele, recalls a blistering summer day down under when they found a Go-Betweens tape in the car. Though her tempos have slowed half a turn, reducing the twee factor if that was a problem for you, her melodies are still very much there and her lyrics are sharp throughout. But she's no longer at all confident that talent will out or love endures--her "This is life, this is livin'" is more resigned than celebratory, copping to her suspicion that a great night in bed will never be repeated. So let me assure her that at least she hasn't "already met all the people that'll mean something." Some of them haven't even been born yet. And I don't mean the kids I bet she's not sure she'll ever have. A-

Standard Fare: Out of Sight, Out of Town (Melodic, 2012) Tighter and/or tougher--the guys sharper and bigger, the gal exploiting her nasality to cut through. But unless you care that the objects of Emma Kupa's lust have become more explicitly female, which she herself makes very little of, what really differentiates this from 2010's The Noyelle Beat is that Kupa's now an old pal even if you didn't think about her once since then. Which she suspects maybe you didn't, because right beneath her forthright specificity lurks an edge of anxiety that portends trouble down the road--trouble that may be your fault. Kupa gets around not because she has a taste for the orgiastic like fellow janglers Los Campesinos! but because relationships go awry. She really wishes they wouldn't, or at least that's what she thinks. But partner by partner, she's still figuring it out. A-

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