Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr In the short time Eternal Summers has been putting out albums, they’ve managed to go from a scrappy lo fi guitar and drums duo favoring noisy pop to a fully formed trio capable of lovely, sprawling indie pop. It’s a somewhat remarkable transformation given the fact it has taken less than five years and four albums. With Gold And Shine, their latest for Kanine, they continue to build on the crisp production of their last several releases, electing to produce the album themselves and enlisting engineer Louie Lino (Nada Surf, matt pond PA) to help out behind the boards. While self-production certainly helps the band in fully realizing its creative vision, Lino’s presence cannot help but be felt. Making a name for himself on Nada Surf’s revelatory Let Go, Lino here applies many of the same sonic touchstones, opening up the group’s sound and adding a glossy sheen to the songs that, while hinted at before, never truly came to the fore. From the guitar tones to the vocals and drums, Lino places the group’s sound firmly within the Let Go mold. It’s an effective move that helps show Eternal Summers as the excellent indie pop band they’ve always intimated themselves to be. Far from immediate, Gold And Stone takes multiple spins to fully sink in, it’s an album full of subtle charms and possesses a steadfast resilience that doesn’t attempt any one particular contemporary trend. Like Nada Surf before them who] managed to rebrand themselves and become something of respected elder statesmen who had more to offer than “Popular” on Let Go, Eternal Summers here begin to show their full potential. A melting pot of influences, Gold And Stone carries traces of the best of a host of kindred spirits. The title track would not have sounded out of place on a Mazzy Star record, while “Black Diamond” evokes the Smiths both in its guitar sound and vocalist Nicole Yun’s Morrissey-aping phrasing. On “Together And Alone,” they look to reconcile their noisier elements with more ethereal guitar pop, giving the track a decidedly ‘90s bent. Throwing a further curveball into the mix, drummer Daniel Cundiff takes over lead vocal duties on the understated, largely acoustic “Ebb Tide.” It’s a lovely moment that, coming as it does so late in the album can’t help but feel somewhat disorienting after having grown accustomed to Yun’s vocals. But when viewed in context, it’s yet another attempt to forgo simplicity or complacency in a genre often limited by settling for the easy route in favor of offering material more challenging than would normally be expected. Often lacking immediately definable hooks, these songs require additional effort and time to fully resonate. Initial listens find much of the record threatening to simply float away. But thanks to Lino’s engineering efforts, there’s a warmth and amiability throughout that draws the ear back time and again. Songs previously glossed over soon show their subtle charms, while others simply ease into an overriding sense of familiarity. Only on the brilliant closer, “Bloom,” do they go for blatantly accessible, grandiose hooks. But even then they subvert expectations, offering obtuse, circular lyrics that betray the music’s accessibility: It’s not obvious/of an answer/obvious/you must answer when there isn’t an answer. It’s a beguiling approach the helps make Eternal Summers one of the more consistently interesting indie pop groups working today. Ultimately, Gold And Stone is a difficult album to pin down. One moment it’s hook-laden and catchy, while the next seems to drift off into space with little to grasp beyond the fleeting sense of something pleasant having transpired. But those willing to spend the requisite amount of time parsing it out will find a solid album likely capable of standing the test of time. In the meantime, it’s best to just sit back and listen.