Calling me late to the party won’t at all diminish how fun this album is, so don’t do it. Whatever you think about this band, you’re probably right. They DO play straight from the Ramones/Runaways songbook. They DO at times sound like the simplest bubble gum country pop you’ve ever heard. But they also play songs that, when they work, are stuck in your head for days.
On Screws Get Loose, we find Those Darlins putting a polish on the sound they established on their first album. For the most part (more on that later), the songs in this collection work best when the humor is cranked up as much as the reverb. Take this lyrics from the first single, “Be Your Bro:
"I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you. You just wanna stick it in."
HI-Larious. And wrapped as they are in what could easily be the theme song for some great unknown Sid and Mary Kroft series, the humor is just compounded. All of that and the song also happens to be as sharp an assessment of the “third wheel “ relationship as your likely to find in modern music?
It makes the exploration of these tracks a gleeful journey. Lyrics like this permeate the album, keeping it afloat as the band gabba gabba heys it’s way through songs about cheating (“Let U Down”), the empowerment of having a boy in every port (“Boy”) and a weirdly anthemic song (“Fatty Needs A Fix”) wherein bacon, and I mean literal bacon, is better than sex.
If I have to nitpick, and I think I do, the album does seem to lose its way a little bit when it strays from the bands formula of sharp, humorous insights and just goes for the straightforward psychobilly, doo-wop well that they are pulling from. Songs like “Hives”, “Mystic Mind”, and to some extent “Tina Said” just don’t hit as hard as some of the other songs. It’s not so much that they aren’t good, because they are, but in an album that is moving between two, or several different emotional tones, the humorous one wins out every time.
The one exception to this is the song “Waste Away”. Tackling the subject of depression and/or drug abuse is never really that easy to pull off but by keeping it simple, the band has managed to craft a sincere, poignant statement on the topic that haunts as much as it pleases.
In the end, this album isn't going to break down any walls. What it is going to do is get seriously stuck in your head, and really, there's no way to call that anything but an outright success. By playing to their strengths and treating their influences with an eloquent reverence, Those Darlins have crafted a memorable entry into what is already proving to be a really great year for music. And they made it FUN.
Need more convincing? Check out a couple tracks from the album below.
Those Darlins - "Be Your Bro"
Those Darlins - "Waste Away"