I was really glad to see Jason Gubbels post a third quarter report on what he does and doesn’t like. I have the same feeling about FKA Twigs, and I don’t know anyone else who shares the sentiment. Of course, neither of the two albums here were in that list. Allo Darlin’ has gotten a decent reception, and despite DiFranco’s album having been out for nearly a week, I’ve only found a handful of reviews. Of the two, it is the one I’m less sure about, but it’s either an A MINUS or a B PLUS (***), so fuck it.
The Metacritic list I posted has already changed. Grouper, for example, might squeeze in there, with her score of 83 and 13 reviews. A real preference this year amongst the cultural arbiters for slow, dull albums.
ALLO DARLIN’ – We Come from the Same Place (Slumberland): This one makes it—barely. Anyone going head-on into Allo Darlin’s third might take frontwoman Elizabeth Morris for a crazy cheesy optimist—especially for a Brit. Only she’s an Aussie leading a British quartet and this record serves as recovery from 2012’s world-weary Europe: she’s willing to make a fool of herself if there’s a chance her love might be reciprocated, a sentiment easier to mock than it is to do, and a much braver move than cynically sulking, smoking, and boozing while wondering ‘what if?’ And it’s this subtle shift in attitude that draws me in more than the music, as few melodies match the never-ending mile we heard last time, but that’s alright; Morris can keep making silly twee-tastic tunes if she’s got the guts to be honest, even if that honesty isn’t too deep and merely supports her special sort of not-so-shiny sunniness. After all, it can’t be too easy for an Aussie to relocate to rainy London. A MINUS
ANI DIFRANCO – Allergic to Water (Righteous Babe): Slower and more solemn than Whose Side Are You On?, a kind of call-to-arms for humanists whose politics were worn proudly on its sleeve. Here DiFranco chills out acoustically, beginning near the beginning when she orders “Woe Be Gone” to spite “the suffering and the madness of the human race,” going on to mix the personal with the spiritual and the globally catastrophic: “Sick of mining my own hillsides / For gems to sell at the market,” how Buddha, Christ, and Isis suffered “when man began to write,” all wrapped up in soft-spoken love lamentations that do more with the lite blues ‘n jazz backdrops her band provides than her sometimes careless words. And those careless words couldn’t have worked with the bombast DiFranco gave us last time, so the minimalist arrangements—simple steel guitar with acoustic bass, the occasional string section, some light reverb filling the gaps—match her tone. Eighteenth studio album, no small feat. “Me, I’m pretty much happy all the time,” she sings. She should be. A MINUS