When Those Darlins released a self-titled debut in 2009, it was easy to write the group off as a too-cute gimmick. A band made up of hard-livin,’ shit-startin,’ and smokin’ hot young ladies playing punked-up country, Those Darlins seemed custom-made for middle-aged male rock critics to eat right up. But Those Darlins actually brought the goods, and the band lived up to its image in concert. Sadly, Screws Get Loose is a serious step backward, ditching the anarchic honky-tonk of old in favor of ho-hum, girly surf pop in the vein of the Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls. In the process, Those Darlins have thinned out its sound, traded twang for drone, and lost a lot of charm. The songs, especially “Be Your Bro,” still have the occasional killer one-liner (“I just wanna be your brother / You just want to be my boyfriend / I want to run and play in the dirt with you / You just want to stick it in”), but the old fierceness is gone. Screws Get Loose is a major buzzkill, like finding out a cool acquaintance from the corner bar is a total dud sober.
More from The A.V. Club