Releasing their fourth album in a decade, this Kansas trio steadily improves on its sound: a shimmering pastiche of glistening and glowering electronics, pulsing bass (Jason Shields), emphatic and spare percussion (drummer Kevin Trevino), and sweet and translucent vocals (Jason's wife, multi-instrumentalist Julie Shields). On Northern Lights, sparse but effective guitar takes a backseat to synths and keyboards and Jason Shields' atmospheric bass, which drives some of the strongest tunes. His thick, oozing notes provide the canvas for "Across the Sky," a song whose beauty unfurls slowly and gracefully as Julie Shields' crystalline voice carves a deceptively hooky path. That lovely blanket of bass is the perfect counter to a pensive guitar on "From the Start," a tune that pulses with restrained desire; it evokes the kind of mood The xx creates. But it's not all dreamy stargazing and diaphanous haze. "Our Apocalypse" poses gritty, grinding synth shards against a pummeled floor tom, as a brittle snare crashes with martial precision. Northern Lights delivers a more complex listening experience you might expect at first glance.