What do you think of when the term “pop music” pops up?
Perhaps you sense something tuneful in musical structure, accessible in lyrical content and largely sunny and soulful in disposition. Certainly Lake Street Dive has all those essentials covered. Ever since breaking through to mainstream popularity with 2014’s “Bad Self Portraits” (after nearly a decade’s worth of under-the-radar indie activity), the Boston-rooted quartet — lead vocalist Rachael Price, guitarist/trumpeter Mike Olson, bassist Bridget Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese — has possessed everything a pop lover could hope for — songs abounding with melodic hooks, harmonies that revert to the soul and rock sounds of a past generation and a earth-rattling voice at the helm.
But the one word that seems to be bending a little as you dig into Lake Street Dive’s newest album, “Free Yourself Up,” is “sunny.”
While there is ample cheer within the grooves, the band’s latest songs are quite worldly. The love songs are little uneasy at times, the subject matter opens up for an occasional reference to the political climate and the ensemble sound — bolstered by the addition of Lake Street Dive’s touring keyboardist Akie Bermiss — quite merrily goes nuts on occasion.
In short, the pop vernacular of Lake Street Dive has grown up.
“We’re just getting older and looking at things maybe outside of ourselves from a wider perspective than in the past,” said Kearney. “In the last couple of years, which has been when we were writing the songs, a lot has been going on in the world. There is a lot we’re tuned into and are concerned with that came into the songs.
“The creative process you’re looking for is a genuine view about something. Whether it’s producing or if it’s songwriting, you’re looking to find something within yourself that you really care about. In the past, I think that’s primarily been relating to romantic relationships — the successes and barriers in that department. Now, our scope has widened a little bit in terms of the things that, day-to-day, are really important to us.”
The set-up for this more world-wary stance comes into view on the new album’s lead off tune, whose title alone signals a pop world that is anything but free and easy — “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts.” But it’s with a song like “Dude” that the present day Lake Street Dive makes itself extremely known, from a storyline where a female protagonist wonders why a lover doesn’t offer her the same attention and camaraderie he exhibits during a night out with the guys, to its coda — an unexpectedly ferocious sonic blast led by Price’s inexhaustible vocal wail and a smoldering trumpet break from Olson.
“I think the fact we’ve been in this together for a long time and that new things are still happening is really exciting,” Kearney said.
“That section you’re talking about at the end of ‘Dude’ is a couple-minute-long jam. Doing something like that with a full band really never would have occurred to us five years ago. So it was cool to realize that and then wonder what we’re going to be doing five years from. We’re all allowing our evolution to take us where it does. We’re doing whatever we can do to keep that wheel turning, seeing what the next chapter is and then embracing that.”
What keeps Lake Street Dive rooted in familiar pop traits yet open to a sense of stylistic daring comes from a band spirit forged the old fashioned way — through nearly non-stop work. That translates into three studio albums in just over four years (2016’s “Side Pony” fell between “Bad Self Portraits” and “Free Yourself Up”) and a feverish touring regimen.
“As a band, we were playing for probably six or seven years before we were making any money off of this,” Kearney said. “Any money was going right back into the band and the vans and hotels and that kind of stuff. It’s obvious, I think, that we like each other and like making music together.
“We do a lot of traveling. Sometimes you’re tired. Sometimes somebody’s in a bad mood and you still have a show to put on. But we have this strong foundation of knowing each other and trusting each other that helps us through any tough times we encounter. So, yeah — long term relationships of whatever kind can be challenging. But they certainly have their rewards.”
If you go
Lake Street Dive/Kalbells
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 31
Where: Manchester Music Hall, 899 Manchester St.
Online: manchestermusichall.com, lakestreetdive.com.