The Corner Laughers know how to do indie-pop. Take bubblegum earworms, layer them with properly twee iconography and make sure you stay literate. It could turn formulaic, but Karla Kane has always stayed odd enough to keep her band interesting, whether she ruminates on the concept or time or simply takes a close look at insects (or does both at once, as she did on 2012’s “Grasshopper Clock”). The band took a lengthy break after 2015’s Matilda Effect, but it gave the group a chance to focus. They came together for quick sessions for the new record Temescal Telegraph, but they also continued their expansive look at the world.

Album highlight “The Accepted Time” displays the group’s ability to draw bigger ideas out of small moments. The song essentially narrates Kane and her daughter taking a walk. Kane turns it into a meditation on the quick passage of time and the need to grasp the present. “Now is the accepted time,” she sings, a conclusion drawn from her longing to “hold on” before letting go. While she desires to live in the present, she recognizes her own struggles to do so, asking her daughter to help her pause enough to engage in that perpetual now. She began the walk thinking about where the path leads, connecting the day’s destination with the future, but she realizes she has to learn to look at where she currently is on the trip, noticing both the trees next to her and the stars above. The track’s formal tightness gives it a hidden power within its easy feeling.

The following track builds on those thoughts. “The Lilac Line” drifts toward a happy future, but Kane recognizes her desire to “freeze this moment like an insect in the amber.” The poppy music guides serious thinking, preventing these thoughts from turning into crisis by giving them the energy to be a healthy part of life. The Corner Laughers are smart enough to keep the music in flux. While “The Accepted Time” took more to indie-rock, “The Lilac Line” uses Kane’s trademark ukelele to shift the mood even if the paired songs have thematic overlap. The group varies its sound well within its general rubric, mixing in both Australian pop and British folk influences.

The album takes a bucolic turn, both sonically and lyrically. “Lord Richard” explains, “The tribe has spoken and voted me/ The one most likely to hug a tree.” Much of the album – despite the Oakland origins – would fit the British countryside, but Kane pushes tight into nature on tracks like “Sister of the Pollen,” a strange number about bees. Otherwise, the natural imagery serves more direct human considerations. “Skylarks of Britain” (which could be a fitting XTC reference) highlights people in small settings worthy of notice, while “Wren in the Rain” takes a cloudy look at religion.

Throughout these tracks – whether looking at nature, mythology or human connections – the Corner Laughers see time pushing forward with some uncertainty, but they recognize our ability to take stock and adjust accordingly. In hurt or in entropy, we “hope to come out clean from a bed of dirt,” which might be the best we can hope for at times. The Corner Laughers tend gardens and graves with bright music and a bright, but not naïve, outlook, making Temescal Telegraph an urgent missive, even if it means traveling slowly.

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