One of the strongest aspects of The Wet Darlings' debut EP, "X," was the signature sound with which they burst from the gate. They emerged fully formed, a saucy alt-rock powerhouse whose melodic rock muscle was upstaged only by Jenny Lute's soul-searing vocal blasts.

One of the strongest aspects of The Wet Darlings' debut EP, "X," was the signature sound with which they burst from the gate. They emerged fully formed, a saucy alt-rock powerhouse whose melodic rock muscle was upstaged only by Jenny Lute's soul-searing vocal blasts.

Some of that coherence and much of the sass is sacrificed to exploration on sophomore effort "So Long, Lover," which they'll release Friday at Skully's with Ghost Shirt and Yellow Light Maybe.

"So Long, Lover" still spotlights Lute's singing, but the EP feels disjointed and rarely deploys Bill Patterson's guitar as the deadly weapon it can be.

Patterson's not lacking on "Butterfly," which delivers more ballsy Zep bluster than the band has previously mustered. This doesn't last long. If there's a common thread here, it's a darker, mellower Wet Darlings.

Sometimes it works. The title track and "Big Ups" are natural extensions of the last EP's big finish, "Ordinary Sunshine." Schmaltzy ballads "After All" and "Graduation (Go On)"? Not so much.

Can't fault them for branching out, but here's hoping the swagger comes back.