Since Michigan’s Fred Thomas recorded Saturday Looks Good to Me‘s debut in 2000, this indie pop project has developed considerably since his original, whimsical premise of creating an album by a band that didn’t exist. With Thomas as the fulcrum, lineup changes have been a major theme of the band, as has his masterful ability to draw on ’60s pop — from Spector to Wilson, Motown to the Zombies — while continuing to produce fresh and inventive material. SLGTM‘s previous album, 2007’s Fill Up the Room, was something of a departure in the sense that he sang lead vocals on nearly every track. However, five years the other side of an array of recording projects — City Center, Swimsuit, Mighty Clouds — Thomas invited no less than four different female lead vocalists to perform on One Kiss Ends It All: the smoky-voiced Carol Catherine, SLGTM keyboard player Amber Fellows, Bad Indians‘ Autumn Wetli, and Every Night contributor Betty Marie Barnes. While Fill Up the Room displayed Thomas‘ ability to transmit equal measures of innocence and experience into a pop lyric, à la Jonathan Richman and Jeff Mangum, it was also a relatively consistent piece in terms of production. In comparison, One Kiss Ends It All is an album of contrasts, something that most certainly works in its favor. Lulling us into a false sense of insecurity, the opener “One Kiss” — with its warped strings and hazy melody — suggests Grandaddy covering the Tremeloes, until the fog clears and the clean, pure springtime hit of pop that is “Invisible Friend” chimes in. Inherently, this lack of predictability makes for an interesting listen, perhaps most effectively presented on the three-and-a-half-minute gem “Negative Space.” Based around a doo wop-inspired chord progression, Barnes‘ heartfelt attempt to “stop thinking ’bout… /Everything all the time” is interrupted by a spooky, disorienting aural representation of “negative space” before the band strike back in with the sunniest middle eight on the record. Elsewhere, the album is filled with attention-grabbing sonic motifs — tapes rolling back, whole tracks spluttering in and out, distorted vocal effects — a constant reminder to the listener that songcraft is as much about studio ingenuity as it is about composition. Reputedly recorded and mastered in its entirety between April and September of 2012, One Kiss Ends It All has benefited from this relatively swift approach, capturing the energy of a summer spent with likeminded friends. Fans of Belle & Sebastian will find much to enjoy here — from the sweeping coda of “The Ever Present New Times Condition” to the dream-inspired “Are You Kissing Anyone?” — but Thomas‘ vision goes beyond mere replication of any one band’s sound. In some respects, One Kiss manages to morph B&S‘s eloquent wistfulness with a production ethic that nods to Robert Schneider‘s Apples in Stereo. However, it’s actually Thomas‘ gift for indelible melody — the album title-referencing chorus of “Break In,” for example — that will keep the listener coming back.