I’ve had the MP3s for Home, the forthcoming third LP from Durham’s Midtown Dickens, for just more than an hour, and that is nowhere near enough time to digest any record. But after only one listen, this much is evident: Home is a great step forward for the band. The album drops Feb. 28 via Chapel Hill’s Trekky Records, in the label’s signature CD+LP+MP3 format.

The duo of Catherine Edgerton and Kym Register, which expanded to a quintet in the lead-up to 2010’s Lanterns, now numbers four; multi-instrumentalists Will Hackney (who co-owns Trekky) and Jonathan Henderson contributed in many facets of the record’s creative process. The twee essence of the band’s early work has been steadily subsiding for a while now, and that transition continues on Home. There’s still a certain cuteness to Edgerton and Register’s wordplay, but here they’ve wrapped their songs in mature folk-rock arrangements—at times spare, at times lush, almost always smart.
Scott Solter (The Mountain Goats, Spoon, St. Vincent) produced the record, and his well-trained hand shows through in a mix of traditional Appalachian sounds and grand psychedelic accouterments. For a taste, see the video below, which comes scored by an absorbing instrumental swell that uses mostly acoustic instrumentation to reach a state of ruminative bliss; Home is filled with such transformative moments, making it an early reason to get excited for Triangle music in 2012.

1. Home All Ways
2. Elephant
3. No More Reason (To Pine)
4. Only Brother
5. Apple Tree
6. Resting
7. Crocodile Mile
8. Walk, Don’t You Run
9. Volcanoes (Covered In Snow)
10. Cross My Heart
11. This Is My Home