With Parts & Labor finished, one presumed that it was only a matter of time that Dan Friel got back into making music. Years have passed since his 2008 solo debut, Ghost Town, an album which, in his own words, consisted of 'pre-apocalyptic party jams'; it was an album so full of promise that one wondered how exactly he would follow it if he ever got around to putting out another solo album. Well, lo and behold, he's planning to do exactly that. Total Folklore arrives in mid-February, and here's hoping we won't have to wait almost five whole years for the next one, especially since this is now Friel's main project. It's a fascinating, vibrant and utterly euphoric listen that's soundtracked much of the the last two months for me. It'll do the same for your year, if you let it.

Opener 'Ulysses' walks the line between anarchic noise and pure pop; like the James Joyce novel with which it shares the name, it is of staggering length (almost 13 minutes long), but unlike it, it is surprisingly immediate. It's well worth the effort, and consistently thrilling, but casual listeners should probably investigate the 4-minute single version. Besides, there are better places to start with Total Folklore; 'Valedictorian' and 'Thumper' offer towering hooks and giddy thrills, racing along at breakneck speed. Try to listen to either of them just the once on a playthrough of this album. (Hint: you can't). Those two songs display Friel at his most infectious, but the whole record is as bright and colourful as its psychedelic artwork: 'Scavengers' winds its way through effortless key changes, driven by a steady beat and pulsing synths, while 'Landslide' is like Passion Pit on uppers, a dense soundscape that nonetheless never loses sight of its primary pop goals.

There's enough going on in these 12 songs (well, OK, 9 songs and 3 interludes, though perhaps 'Interlude #3' should have been fleshed out into its own song, as it's dreamy and delicate enough to be worthy of being expanded upon) that listeners will find themselves returning to Total Folklore constantly - that is, as if the staying power of an album as wonderfully sunny-sounding as this wouldn't be enough. If this is the calibre of stuff we can expect to hear from Friel in the future, then he should have a rather fruitful solo career ahead of him.