Wordless Wonder has a tug-of-war quality to it. Many times the album finds itself hurtling forward sonically, but these moments are balanced rather quickly by the words of Eli Hansen. You expect one thing, but Real Numbers aren’t really playing towards those expectations. And that’s where Wordless Wonder shines through.

An immediate feel for this is made present within “Frank Infatuation.” But the way these moments penetrate throughout while tiptoeing around the potential of landing on one specific sound is quite admirable. The title track is emblematic of the band’s ability to toy with sounds that could exist in quite a few moments over the last several decades. Hansen’s words attempt to read a situation with no luck, looking for a crack in the demeanor of a closed door while the instruments assist how they can.

Sonically, buzzes spike with a caffeinated energy in several occasions where the vocals don’t necessarily lag, but they do stabilize the elements – most notably on “Just So Far Away” and “New Boy.” Especially present in the latter song, John Eggerman’s bass has a heavy, mod groove that spurs a rush from James Blackfield’s drum set. The excitement and energy can be explained by a tale of young love, but there’s something slightly anachronistic to it all.

As you can imagine by this point, there’s no pinning down what the sound exactly is. Sometimes it’s a little plucky and hyper with vibes of Belle & Sebastian (see “Only Two Can Play”), and sometimes there’s just something dandy to it while creating a story around what most would see as a standard piece of home décor (in the case of “Sister’s Serving Tray”). But Real Numbers do like to go big.

This is probably most noticeable in a track like “Falling Out.” The quartet takes on the open expanse with gusto while capturing a bit of neo-Western swagger. Slightly anthemic, definitely infectious, the words then seem to unveil an unraveling of something bigger lost. Big sky harmonies close things out before it just kind of falls over, but you’ll be shaken awake later with the aptly titled “Up & About.”

When you hear the sunny disposition of “This Happy Sadness,” you have to wonder how long it will last. Musically, until the very end. Lyrically, not long. Or does it? A relationship is certainly falling apart, but Hansen seems to feel pretty good about the way things were and are. Not all endings have to be bad really. Which makes us think – maybe things aren’t so off-balanced as they seem.

You can pick Wordless Wonder up from the Slumberland Records store now. Joey Smith