It’s taken nearly two decades, but the D.C. post-punk trio Lorelei has finally made a follow-up to its cult debut, 1995’s “Everyone Must Touch the Stove.” In the intervening years, the musicians have worked on other projects, moved to other cities, gotten married, had kids, moved back. But the band remained together through it all, if only in the background of its members’ lives.
“We started playing again when we moved back to D.C.,” says singer-guitarist Matt Dingee, who returned to the nation’s capital from the Bay Area six years ago. “Naturally, things turned to writing these songs. We didn’t really consciously decide we were going to make an album, but we did want to record — that’s the fun part.”
The result is “Enterprising Sidewalks,” which showcases the band’s penchant for complex song structures, unpredictable dynamics and scribbly guitar jams. It took Lorelei years to complete the album because of the responsibilities of day jobs and families.
“We had something missing that we’d previously had a lot of, which was time,” says bass player Stephen Gardner. “It took a long time to get everything recorded, so it became a very deliberate process. There was plenty of time to let the songs gestate and think about what they needed, so they have a more measured, less frantic pace than our earlier stuff.”
Dingee, Gardner and their bandmate, drummer Davis White, made maturity the primary subject of “Enterprising Sidewalks.” “These songs were informed by the big transitions we were facing as we became parents,” Gardner says. “Suddenly your sphere of responsibility expands.”
“As we’re becoming adults and dealing with adult problems,” Dingee says, “we’re also going through this bad period in the country’s history where things are harder to deal with right now.”
A jittery desperation pervades “Enterprising Sidewalks,” lending the songs a sense of gravity. “I think we still had things to say to one another and hopefully collectively, and that was pretty clear once we started playing together again,” Gardner says. “If that hadn’t been the case, we wouldn’t have done it, but I think there was still more ground to mine.”
Opener “Hammer Meets Tongs” sums up the Lorelei aesthetic perfectly, as it changes shape constantly. The song opens with Davis White’s simple drumbeat, which Matt Dingee interrupts with a herky-jerky guitar riff and a deadpan melody that morphs into a supremely catchy major-key hook.