Take "Catalina," for example: the consummate portrayal of the groups strengths. The song's first half consists of a hushed guitar strum, sparkling piano and a steady, mid-tempo rhythm to guide them. It's morose and contemplative in a way that's almost reminiscent of the dampened grandeur Modest Mouse perfected on The Moon & Antarctica.
Yet at the track's halfway point, as if to fend off the melancholy, "Catalina" is reborn as a jovial, synth-driven dance number with an instantly infectious hook. The left turn represents not only a stark shift in dynamics, but also the originality that's largely unexplored throughout Dark Hearts remainder.
Each song here is easily discernible from the others. Yet it's clear the band made a strident effort to mix things up from track to track an admirable, but ultimately contrived endeavor. Some take on a darker, more industrial temperament ("Beauty and the Beast," "Never Get Out"), and these are the moments that distract from and, frankly, flat-out ignore The Grown Ups strengths.
Ironically, the more lighthearted melodies offer the most mystique moments when The Grown Ups talent and sincerity are plainly evident. Ultimately, however, Dark Hearts sounds like a band still in search of its true self. Zach Hale