Ryan Lott’s CV reads a bit like that of the lead character in some quirky rom-com: a classically trained pianist who spent his post-grad years writing music for TV adverts and dance companies, once signed to outsider hip hop label Anticon, a pair of critically acclaimed albums under his belt, along with live performances with highbrow icons such as Nico Muhly, Phillip Glass and Laurie Anderson and studio collaborations with indie luminaries like These New Puritans, Sufjan Stevens and rapper Serengeti. Moderately successful but still working various day jobs (most notably as sound designer for last year’s smart time travel blockbuster Looper), Lott has often seemed – to the casual observer – stuck in an awkward grey area, frustratingly close to “the big time” but not quite in a position to wholeheartedly say he was living the dream. That could be about to change, however, with the release of his third full-length as Son Lux: if there’s any justice in the world, the wondrous Lanterns – out now via Joyful Noise – would bring about Lott’s Hollywood moment, where he tells his emotionally unsupportive boss to shove his lousy job and the world finally gets to hear his music and he sells a million records and saves the day and – hell – most likely gets the girl too. For although much of the album is built upon a foundation of ornate orchestral chamber pop not unlike that which dominated previous efforts, Lanterns also contains a number of tougher, more forceful tracks that mark Lott’s transition from polite, unassuming everyman to confident, gifted go-getter. Lead single “Lost It To Trying” (below) fuses explosive live and programmed drums, shimmering flutes, insistent saxophone blasts and choral voices, treading a fine line between refined and raucous, equal parts brain and brawn; “No Crimes” could have been a headlong punk rush in another life, transposed here for rattling percussion and furiously bowed strings, whilst “Pyre” simmers quietly for a minute before bubbling over in a froth of flatulent synths and steamrolling electro beats. Of course these elements are nothing new in Son Lux’s music, but this time around the arrangements are more focused, with every sound serving a purpose; indeed, for all its occasional bombast one of Lanterns’ highlights, “Easy“, consists of little more than looped piano, lurching horns and a multi-tracked slow handclap keeping time. More accessible, more economical, more enjoyable than his earlier work, Lanterns is the album that deserves to propel Lott into the experimental/ neo-classical/ indie/ electro/ pop big leagues; check it out over at NPR.