Depending on how you listen to it, the new album from Implodes is a number of different things. A little bit of volume can make a lot of difference sometimes, as fans of the band will know quite well. In the past, they've tried to be many things at once, but such is the versatility of the Chicagoan band, who make music which has been described as art-rock, noise-rock, post-rock - and a fair few other '-rock' sub-genres - that they've always managed to pull off whatever tasks they set their mind to. Their second album, following on from well-received debut Black Earth, takes their previous ambition and gives it a good deal of polish. They're still as unpredictable as ever, yet paradoxically have gained a renewed focus. While the dreamy opener 'Mandy' would seem to suggest that little has changed, its scant two-minute running time is only the tip of the iceberg, and it soon becomes clear that Recurring Dream is much different than what's come before.

The darkness and heaviness that the band have become known for is still there, of course, well audible in the mix of 'Scattered in the Wind', vocals buried beneath whip-crack drums and towering bass, but it doesn't sound as oppressive as before. Some surprisingly poppy melodies sneak in, actually: the striking shoegaze of 'Necronomics' combines with the crashing waves of organs and squalling guitars on 'Zombie Regrets' to help the album to really hit its stride as it moves towards its middle section, at which point the band decide to change things up again, with 'You Wouldn't Know It' smothered in reverb to create a feeling of distant melancholy. It sounds like it's coming from the bottom of a well; the song that actually bears that name closes the album on a dark and atmospheric note, the polar opposite to how the record began.

There is a sense of restlessness that drives Implodes now, even when their songs are slow-moving. It's not that they haven't yet figured out what they want to sound like; it's more that they've figured out that they want to sound like a few different things, sometimes all at once. Penultimate track 'Prisms and the Nature of Light' is a pared-back instrumental that wouldn't normally have a place on an album like this, but it works perfectly, slotting into the band's wide-ranging and often effortless-sounding vision as easily as any of the other songs on the album. Recurring Dream improves with repeated listens, until everything clicks and it starts to sound like a complete package. As second albums go, this doesn't sound difficult at all.