Richard Album's power pop occupies the interesting space between sincere and tongue-in-cheek. "She's the singer of a hardcore band, the words of which I can't understand," Album sings with boyish charm on "She Only Wants to be a Punk," one of the best tracks on Richard the Third, released this month. The record refines the endearing goofiness the Chicago transplant-by-way-of-Olympia started putting out in 2012. The songs are less rushed, more attention is paid to catchy riffs and the songwriting is a step up as well. Much of the credit is owed to Album's new backing band, The Singles, and guitarist Mike Meegan's hand at co-producing. (The Lifestyles was the less-aptly named backing band on Album's second release in 2013, The Sophomore Album.)
Richard the Third comes off like landlocked surf rock in the way the songs are relaxed and carefree (though not careless) in their construction. "Jonathan" nails that happy-go-lucky feeling with its repetitive choruses and minimal chord choices. Then "Called Out" and its synthy melody confounds any attempt to give the band's sound a place in time. It's not a throwback to anything, just unpretentious pop rock.
Richard Album plays the VFW Thurs., Aug. 7, at 10 PM with Gerygone & Twig, Desert Center and Crooked Cops. $5.