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Those Darlins: Making Un-Country Noises

Those Darlins' latest album, <em>Screw Gets Loose,</em> finds the group moving toward harder-rocking material.
Courtesy of the artist
Those Darlins' latest album, Screw Gets Loose, finds the group moving toward harder-rocking material.

The three women who front Those Darlins are all surnamed Darlin the way The Ramones were all surnamed Ramone. But the acoustic two-steps on their 2008 debut didn't sound very Ramones. True, "Wild One" talked the talk and "DUI or Die" hit pretty hard for a public service announcement. But it was a relief when the lead and title track of Those Darlins' Screws Get Loose kicked off with some very un-country noises.

The young woman freaking out in "Screws Get Loose" is wild one Jessi Darlin, the top singer and writer in a band where everybody sings and writes. The bassist is Kelley Darlin, and the lead guitarist Nikki Darlin. The drummer they took on after they formed — thus turning Those Darlins from a trio to a mixed-gender quartet — doesn't get to call himself Darlin. But it's Linwood Regensburg's propulsion that makes Those Darlins' loud guitars go boom.

Singing "You Give Me Hives" is Nikki, in a song about the physical manifestations of thwarted lust that she wrote with the band's drummer boy. So, yes, Those Darlins get randy just like other rock 'n' roll wild ones. Note, however, that the album's first single, "Be Your Bro," has a different idea.

Those Darlins isn't afraid to call itself a feminist band. It's hardly asexual. But its members aren't the female equivalent of hard-touring horn dogs, either: During her turn in the spotlight, Kelley Darlin lays out the limited rewards of love on the road in a proud, realistic and rather wistful song called simply "Boy."

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Robert Christgau
Robert Christgau contributes regular music reviews to All Things Considered.