Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Lake Street Dive belong in a different era. Or at least in terms of commercial appeal, they were most certainly born four decades too late. A band like Lake Street Dive simply has too much pure musicality, complex harmony and old-fashioned funk to score a spot in the Top 20. But good news for them, and for us listeners, that does not seem to bother them very much. True to form on their recently released fifth record Side Pony, the New England Conservatory of Music-educated quartet effortlessly conjures up the ghosts of Motown groups and bar bands past to offer a fun, featherweight amalgam of genres. It won’t change your life, but this is simple, well-played, melodically-rich music. One of the most enjoyable things about Lake Street Dive is that they are utterly impossible to classify, a conundrum in which the band seems to revel. The musical influences are truly all over the place on Side Pony and a testament to the band’s strength as they handle a number of styles with equal aplomb. Lead single “Call Off Your Dogs” is a gleeful ‘70s homage with wocka-wocka bass and disco strings. “Hell Yeah” is a ‘60s-inflected barn burner with surf guitar that vaguely recalls the Rascals’ “Good Lovin” once it kicks into a shout-along, organ-aided chorus. And they don’t slouch on the slow stuff either—late-album ballad “Mistakes” is the record’s best number, sporting a beautiful horn motif from Mike Olson and aching background vocals. Anchoring all of it is singer Rachael Price’s powerhouse voice—a trained jazz vocalist with a wail full of muscle shoals grit and silken smoothness in all the right places. The band is chameleonic and looks good in every color. Most importantly, the band pulls off a rare trick for a studio album—it captures the joyful and visceral energy of a band born in bars and raised on live shows. The band’s rhythm section interlocks with the precision of professionally trained musicians. Background vocals, all oooooo’s and aaaahhh’s, ring loud and true above the din. Tempo changes liven up the proceedings—the hard-rocking “I Don’t Care About You” picks up its pace halfway through and it’s not hard to picture the live audience erupting into spastic dancing at the pure unleashing of musical energy. The lyrics are standard-fare late-‘20s, early-‘30s heartbreak and drunken come-ons. Closer “Saving All My Sinning” is a sultry jam where Price threatens to unleash her inner bad girl. “Spectacular Failure” hilariously recounts a disastrous night with a romantically inept suitor over horn trills that appropriately recount Otis Redding’s “Mr. Pitiful.” Best, and most unique, of all is the title track, a tribute to a whimsical hairstyle that becomes a metaphor for the band’s mission statement. The band just does its own thing without fear of judgment or pigeon-holing—they’re happy to dance around different genres with abandon. It’s the record’s standout lyrical composition, and it’s hard not to wish that some more of that whimsy found its way into the lyrics. If there’s one big criticism to be made of Side Pony, it’s that the record doesn’t really expand on the sound fully fleshed out in the band’s previous effort Bad Self Portraits. Lake Street Dive does many things well, even if none of it is particularly revolutionary. The band likely will not evolve in great leaps anytime soon, but for now, that’s more than fine. Their stasis quo is a degree of musicality and fun of which most “rock” bands today could only dream.