The near-absence of accent in the pop produced by the four young Dutchmen of Daryll-Ann is both literal and descriptive: while guitarist Jelle Paulusma betrays only the scantest difficulty pronouncing English words in his high, attractive voice, the band’s sweet’n’low guitar rock too often drifts off into bland tweeness, early Aztec Camera diluted with too much water. More the windblown product of diverse influences than a stylistically resolved proposition, Daryll-Ann spends its six-song debut (a condensation of two UK EPs) puttering around. The group imagines how David Bowie ’70s country rock might sound (“I Could Never Love You”), pastes banjo into the Kinksy bounce of “Come Around” and tries out Hollies harmonies on “Doll,” a pre-Toy Story song that imagines being on a shelf “next to Superman.” The quartet displays ample enthusiasm and a bit of élan, but even lyrics that describe cruel words as “snakes from our mouth” just aren’t striking enough to compensate for the music’s shocking normalcy.
The full-length Seaborne West increases the peace, offering oily commercial chirpiness (except for a fat wah-wah guitar solo, “Stay” sounds like the second coming of Pilot), adding more country and quiet to the mix, and generally paying unironic tribute to wishywashiness in many pale colors. The malt-rock cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” sounds altogether sincere-although guitarist Anne Soldaat does fire off a piercing solo for credibility’s sake. Other numbers (“Sheila”) owe something to Crosby, Stills and Nash (the Neil Young tributes are separate). As hard as it is to dislike a band that can start the album’s hardest-rocking song (“Birthmark”) with a murmured “Uh-oh!,” sing convincingly about turning in (“Low Light”) and make no issue of the line “Little boy you were, you’re growing older and I’m scared to lose you,” Daryll-Ann repeatedly sidles up to promising ideas and then lets them get away in a whoosh of the wimpy cutes. As bright and jingly as it is, this charm bracelet is just too flimsy to cherish.