“Overgrown,” the album’s opening track, is a bluegrass lamentation that pairs her instrument with a shrill violin, a combination that results in a quick dash for the earplugs. “Seven,” meanwhile, takes a stab at different time signatures; drummer Reid Faist comfortably controls the Pixies-like variations, and bassist/vocalist Amy Moreland maintains a low-end dominance. Jackson’s half-spoken whispers are a relief from the howling, but you gotta wonder: Why take the time to master shifty progressions when the singer would benefit from some music lessons?
A couple of moments almost redeem the record. On “The Time Has Come,” a simple, punk beat and a dynamic, driving bass propel laid-back, lower-register vocals. And on “Puppies,” drummer Faist sings while impressively wandering up and down a ukulele, revealing a band whose members have obviously made an earnest but calculated attempt to sound like, well, everything.
Faced with an abundance of music today, you can’t blame Darling New Neighbors for trying to be different. However, it’s always preferable to be different in a good way.