The Dark Circles are independent as hell. The band's keyboardist is Anodyne Records owner John Hulston, who took his band to South by Southwest, even though it's not technically on Anodyne. No one complained. This eight-song debut was recorded and mixed by Brodie Rush (Be/Non, Brodioke), who isn't exactly the scene's go-to engineer (yet?). The Dark Circles' existence, thus far, has stood as a fat middle finger to a music industry that treats DIYers like lepers at the gate. Kudos to that. Musically, however, the band's makeup is a little less triumphant. Echoes of the don't-call-it-goth revival (see: I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness) abound, especially on the opening "New Friend Request," with its needling, looping guitar, ringing bass and climactic chorus. That song also introduces the band's strongest instrument: singer and guitarist Byron Huhmann's desperate, strained tenor. His anxious, exposed yelps on the punky "Sick of the Second Part" help make it the best song on the album. Unfortunately, the band's sound on the other songs isn't as focused as on those two. It's fine that the Dark Circles employ a dark circle of music referents, chiefly the Cure, Joy Division and, not surprisingly, Huhmann's previous band, Onward Crispin Glover. The trouble is that this band doesn't sound like it has decided what it sounds like by itself. The Dark Circles seem more interested in establishing a mood and marching it into the ground, forgetting, perhaps, that hurt sounds better when it comes with catchy hooks (the two songs mentioned thus far being the exceptions). After all, people who come to the Dark Circles aren't going to be looking for music to play while they light candles, put on black lipstick and crawl into a coffin. That's not this band but it's what this band's headed for if the DCs don't start having a little more fun.