You'd be forgiven for thinking it'd be a case of once bitten twice shy for London producer Joe Flory, following his disappointing major label experience under the moniker of Primary 1. That project lasted one solitary album, with Flory's subtle pop refusing to be boxed up as day-glo chart fodder and no doubt leaving him bruised and jaded by the brief taste of the big time. Yet here's Flory, back again this time as Amateur Best, under the loving wing of the rather fine Double Denim label, with new album No Thrills.

The only hints of previous disappointments come from Flory's voice: it's downbeat and resigned; the sound of a man who's taken some hits. But that's the only thing about this scrappy, playful homemade pop record that's not gently positive – just look at the cartoonish 3D artwork that Flory created, and then photographed, to accompany his music. It's crafted with love, but a big ragged and fragile, just like the music Flory's making right now. Gone is the out-and-out optimism of Primary 1, replaced by something altogether more likeable and realistic - hook-laden and melodic, but not saccharine or overpowering.

And you can hear it from the moment No Thrills begins with the Chilly Gonzales-featuring 'Ready For the Good Life'; bright synths and skittering drums underpin Flory's croon of "I could live in your world / but that would be trouble" while Gonzales' deceptively small, low piano notes dance around before crashing into a sunny chorus that almost jars against Flory's flat-ish delivery. Then there's the ridiculously off-key sax intro for 'Too Much', which seems to detail his experiences at the hands of a major label ("How do I settle down in the fire that is coming?"). It's a silly, playful addition to a pulsating electro track that builds across verses until layers of shoegaze guitars burn a hole in the final, epic chorus. That mix of light and dark dominates the record: while Flory sings of, on the surface at least, dark times, the music finds ways to soar above it all.

'The Wave' sounds like a track David Bowie might have made if he’d been in Berlin with Hot Chip in the 80s; an epically downbeat track that twinkles brightly and drops in some brassy notes just to keep us grounded, as Flory seems to sing of the titular wave as a warning that happiness is temporary and can be swept away at any time. This theme continues in the ridiculously happy 80s chart pop of 'In Time' which, while the music is utterly, unquestioningly positive, has lyrics that once again speak of things breaking down: "We fall apart / Shotgun false start / I didn’t have the heart." It's a thread that holds No Thrills together, and it's a vital one - if this was a record with sunny lyrics and sunny music, it'd far too much for even the most positive person to handle.

Rousing closer, and title track, 'No Thrills' says it best when Flory sings "but all in all you must survive / old muscle memory line / my hand, your heart / we sing, we sing, we sing." He's emerging from darker times through the music of Amateur Best – damaged, wary of happiness and the trials of everyday life, yet somehow stronger for the experience of making No Thrills.