After a run of albums that were widely appreciated but not as revered as they deserved, Gang Gang Dance seemed poised to rule this decade. 2011’s Eye Contact was experimental pop at its finest, rewarding listeners in the short-term with ecstatic hooks but also rewarding patience with the jaw-dropping 11-minute odyssey that is the perhaps-untoppable opener ‘Glass Jar.' Whatever their follow-up was going to be, it couldn’t come soon enough.

And it didn’t. The band didn’t announce any official hiatus. Rather, they took time to focus on their other music and creative pursuits, frontwoman Lizzi Bougatsos worked on her art and writing as well as her solo career and band I.U.D. (with Sadie Laska of Growing), multi-instrumentalist Brian DeGraw released an album under the bEEdEEgEE moniker, while guitarist Josh Diamond got a handle on making and performing music himself (albeit without releasing it).

The lineup had downsized between Eye Contact and now, but according to the band, there was no acrimony, just a resistance to making a new record without necessity. According to DeGraw (in an interview with Stereogum), their hiatus is shorter than that seven-year gap, since their new album, Kazuashita, has been 2-3 years in the making. Time was taken off, but it’s not as though Gang Gang Dance completely forget who they were.

If anything, they’ve more than justified their hiatus. Kazuashita is an astonishing musical mosaic. Every track links together seamlessly and every texture is vibrant, even the interludes, (which enhance the album instead of just being easily excised filler) But Gang Gang Dance are never about showmanship. Their idea of beauty isn’t about overwhelming the senses in sudden spurts. It’s about realizing that beauty can be extracted through sheer will, even when the powers that be are pushing back as hard as they can. Speaking out might inspire ugliness in others, but suppressing your feelings furthers the ugliness within.

Named for friend and collaborator Taka Imamura’s infant, Kazuashita is a loose Japanese translation of “peace tomorrow.” It’s a title that could be read as optimistic (in terms of anticipating a better tomorrow) or pessimistic (tomorrow never comes). They know “peace today” isn’t happening. Don’t feel bad if immigrant children being locked in cages, unarmed Palestinian protesters being murdered, and countless other atrocities have let the Dakota Access Pipeline slip your consciousness recently. ‘J-Tree’ is an incredibly stirring reminder, anchored by Bougatsos’ awestruck but not naive perspective, as she asserts she’s “not ready to go.” With its gentle piano melody, this song might serve as the ideal entry point to Gang Gang Dance.

They’re not merely content with soothing, however, or using a white woman to be the voice of an issue that predominantly affects indigenous peoples. ‘J-Tree’ reaches its apex during a sample of an interview with Standing Rock activist Shiyé Bidzííl, where the witnessing of a buffalo stampede interrupts his testimonial about the importance of the land. As the drums move patiently against the screams of the crowd, you sense Gang Gang Dance know when and how to keep their distance and let a moment speak for itself.

The police brutality-focused ‘Young Boy (Marika in Amerika)’ doesn’t have such a sample, nor does it offer a comparable momentary escape. Instead, Bougatsos locks us in with the rhetorical question, “Is it really a surprise?” The ‘innocence of youth’ is all but meaningless when it’s children of colour. Read about enough cases of police abusing their power up to and including murdering children and it can numb you for a lifetime. But ‘Young Boy’ isn’t hamfisted or preachy. It distils its pertinent social message in a way that anyone with the slightest sense of empathy should understand. The teased out rhythms and synth lines and the panting vocals convey a palpable sense of overwhelm and dread about what’s happening now and what is yet to come.

When Gang Gang Dance focus less on politics, it’s not like they’re putting their blinders on. Instead, they’re letting themselves absorb the beauty whatever it is they can. In one part of the gear-shifting title track, artist Oliver Payne reads off a list of colours, from the common (orange, violet) to the specific (eggshell, eucalyptus). The resplendent ‘Lotus’ lets Bougatsos explore her essence in words only she could summon (“I am secret in here”). A truly worthy successor to Cocteau Twins might never arrive, but on Kazuashita, Bougatsos frequently recreates Elizabeth Fraser’s ability to turn already beautiful vocals into constellations you want to gaze inside for hours upon hours. She’s in good company. The arrangements by DeGraw (who produced the album) and Diamond are ambitious and expansive without giving way to indulgence. June might only be winding down, but Bougatsos singing about the end of summer against a goosebump-inducing clattering of drums and sparkling synths on closer ‘Salve on the Sorrow’ is enough to feel like the entire season has been captured in one five-minute track.

While Kazuashita might not be a completely perfect album, it is as close as you can get to perfect when it comes to fulfilling the potential of the album as an artistic concept. Every piece fits together, it has a message without pontificating, and it’s absolutely crucial to experience it all at once. For anyone who has been longing for more Gang Gang Dance or for those completely new to them, this album is ready for you to enter its world, even when surrounded by a world that’s much less patient and loving.