[6 May 2009]
Darla Farmer pick up where the Squirrel Nut Zippers left off or still are at. But unfortunately, this band and their collection of songs don’t quite jibe as smoothly, particularly the swinging, jazzy opener “The Quotient” which sounds more like a bad Violent Femmes or They Might Be Giants cover than anything else. “History” fares better because of its oomph, sounding like an Appalachian-tinged homage to No Doubt. The band also seems to limp through “Mechanical Thoughts” as if they’re on auto-pilot. It’s a decent song but there’s so much going on here that the vocals (which later shriek) are fighting for space among guitars, drums, horns and piano. Darla Farmer also attempt to make the tempo-change part of most of the material, but seems to fall flat on their collective faces with “The Strangler Fig”, a tune that sounds better for some crappy musical than a concert stage. The record is consistently confusing and clamoring. There are few saving graces here, but the somewhat happy-go-lucky “The Cow That Drank Too Much” might placate a few who have braved the album this long. The big highlight, aside from the chipper, bouncy “Tommy Bones”, is the somber, tender “Tree on a Hill” which resembles Cat Power.