Drawing from Harry Nilsson to Billie Holiday, The Kinks and The Beatles, but taking thoseinfluences to a trippier, weirder place, Denver-based five-piece VARLET just released its debut full-length American Hymns, the follow up to The Drifter EP (self-released, 2011). American Hymns juxtaposes Varlet’s signature dark, indie rock psychedelia and lyrics against bright—even poppy—instrumentation. Navigating through ragtime, jazz, and rock and roll, Varlet holed up for 10 days at Hideaway Studios (which has also housed My Morning Jacket, The Swayback) in the mountains of Colorado, along with friend and engineer James Barone (of Tennis) to record an album that comments on contemporary America. Reflecting on the album as a whole, lead vocalist Lilly Scott states, “Every song on the record works as its own self-contained story, but those stories all correlate back to the same idea—trying to liberate yourself physically and emotionally in a country where it feels impossible to do so.” On American Hymns, Scott’s classic vocals have matured into a strong, consistently nostalgic jazz falsetto, while Varlet’s music is more complex, varied, and interesting. A handful of songs on the new album have Lilly sharing lead vocals with drummer Will Duncan, while the rest of the band appears as a catchy, call-and-response chorus in unexpected moments. The album ends with the surprisingly straightforward “Borealis,” a haunting mosaic of stories that bind us all together, a collection of American hymns.