"I feel like a big part of our existence is, 'Dawes is this cool band that takes us back to the Seventies,' which is never something we wanted at all." So says frontman Taylor Goldsmith when discussing the Californian folk-rock band's third album. "It's never something we wanted at all." If you're in a band like Dawes, you realise what you've come to represent, and then you try to change it. The classic Laurel Canyon sound (think Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, etc.) which the band basically perfected on second album Nothing is Wrong - released in 2011 but actually preceding the release of their debut North Hills here in the UK - was all over their previous material, the opening notes of 'Just Beneath the Surface' from the new record shatter the preconceived notions of the band. Dawes have wanted to get away from that pesky 'Seventies revivalists' tag for so long that it was only a matter of time before they managed it. That time has come, and more importantly, their time has come.

They're a moderately big deal in the States, but I saw them pack out the Academy 2 in Dublin last July, and it struck me that perhaps their next record would be the one that helped them to dent the UK market (again, since their albums got released in reverse here). Stories Don't End doesn't actually have a UK release date yet. That needs to be sorted out ASAP - the new record is definitely their best one yet, and there are enough different things to draw in a considerable amount of new fans. Goldsmith may be the most recognisable member of the Californian quartet, but each member of the band - the others being Taylor's brother Griffin, Wylie Geiber and Tay Strathairn - has their moment on the new record. Taylor's lyrics are excellent as usual, with ruminations on touring (lead single 'From a Window Seat'), relationships (a fair chunk of the album, examined from different perspectives, with 'Just My Luck' the pick of the bunch) and deeply personal songs like 'Something in Common', in which he pits the person he is against the person he'd like to be.

For all the weighty subject matter, there is a lightness of touch that helps the album to fly by. Dawes don't get too bogged down with slow songs this time around, though they deliver them with aplomb when they do; the title track slows things down to a waltz, featuring some of the best lyrics on the album ("If I tried to show every side of you through words of a song, I'd say a fraction of what I'd intend") and arguably the best example of the band's updated sound. There are poppy thrills as well, of course, with 'Hey Lover' and 'From the Right Angle' showcasing the best of their upbeat side. Indeed, the band are able to sum up the sound of the new album with a single song; the rollicking drums and soaring strings that drive 'From a Window Seat' (along with everything else) are stripped away for a laid-back reprise that closes the album with keyboard, bass, drums and Taylor's subdued vocals, the song settling into a brief instrumental coda before fading out on a similarly high note to the one on which the album began. It's not a huge reinvention - that wouldn't have been a particularly Dawesian thing for the band to do, as they prefer gradual progression - and it doesn't need to be, because it's their most fulfilling and rewarding album to date; in its own way, it's the start of something new for the band - new and very, very exciting.