by Steve Haruch
From the first few seconds of “Screws Get Loose,” the title track from Those Darlins’ new full-length, it’s clear this is not the same band that gave us 2009’s rollicking, punk-country Those Darlins: A rubbery mess of warped guitar notes bends around a driving xylophone, and as the song shifts into the verse, the sound is akin to a parallel-universe ’60s girl-group (albeit with snarlier vocals) playing full-on guitar-driven pop. But it’s around the time Jessi Darlin gets to the chorus — “Can’t blame me for what I choose / Whoa-oh, screws get loose” — delivered in her signature adenoidal drawl, that we realize this is the same band we’ve known all along. They’ve just gotten better.
Put another way: While the acoustic instrumental twang of old favorites like “Wild One” has been replaced by surfy riffs and the occasional psychedelic reverb-soaked drone, these Tennesseans are still country enough to down whiskey all night, come home drunk and devour an entire leftover chicken at 3 a.m. — “Fatty Needs a Fix” is a hilarious companion piece, of sorts, to Those Darlins’ “The Whole Damn Thing” — and their relentless touring has only made them more assured in their writing and playing.
There’s a nice continuity to Screws, too, to go with the variety of songwriting styles. On one end of the spectrum lie bratty rants like the infectious Jessi-penned “Be Your Bro,” and its punky lament that will ring true for annoyed tomboys the world over: “I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you / You just wanna stick it in.” On the other end there are the slower, more reflective, wistful tunes like the Kelley-penned “Boy” (a riposte, of sorts, to Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man”). In between — from Linwood’s slouchy “Let U Down” to Nikki’s delightfully psychosomatic “Hives” — Those Darlins sound like a band, and a hell of a good one at that.
"Be Your Bro" official video, directed by Veta and Theo for Ovvio Arte: