I agree, it doesn't look good in the current state.
Mail.app's traditional view also has different list background colors. But they cover the complete line width, like NC's wide view (which I only use) and here, it looks ok:
In your example (short view) the colored lines ending in the middle look unfamiliar and non-standard. The alternating background rows and the different font colors also add visual noise in both (short and wide) cases. I'm no designer and I don't see how that can be done in a visually appealing way.
My original motivation was to make NC use macOS's UI standards (e.g. selection has different background color) wherever possible. Maybe NC's old-school cursor/selection behavior (which is great!) just isn't compatible with it. Sometimes you have to see it to believe it... So after seeing it, I don't mind if you revert to the old NC behavior - but thanks a lot for giving it a try!
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