As Graffiti6’s sophomore album The Bridge opens, with the deep echo of piano keys introducing a short, stripped version of “Beside You” before transitioning into the album’s massive title track, it becomes clear that Jamie Scott and Tommy “TommyD” Danvers have experienced just as large a musical evolution since the original 2010 release of debut album Colours. Since then, the Colours album era produced notable singles in “Free” and “Stare Into The Sun,” while each member of the duo expanded their horizons individually — Scott’s songwriting played a major role in the breakout success of One Direction, and he added songwriter credits for Christina Perri, Michael Kiwanuka, 5 Seconds of Summer, Little Mix, and more; Danvers, meanwhile, provided production and orchestration work for several artists, including fun., Emeli Sandé, Tinie Tempah, and Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher. Accordingly, the sound of Graffiti6 as an ensemble has grown as well, drawing from each member’s new influences. Throughout the album’s fifteen tracks, layers of background harmonies, expressive piano and string lines, and production elements pack a punch behind sentimental lyrics of love and loss, creating a wide, expansive soundscape that is as engaging over the long term as it is catchy upon the first listen.

One of the highlights of The Bridge is its title track, in which heavy percussive beats, guitar slides, and impassioned harmonies surround lyrics that evoke loss and helplessness, searching for a comfort zone after a breakup. A similar lost sentiment is heard in an ode for restless insomniacs, “Losing My Mind,” followed by the post-breakup tale of living “Separate Lives,” whose extended coda is a tender, yearning cry: Scott cries out “I miss you, I miss you here, miss your love…” as a soft bed of synths, echoing vocals, and a string line builds until it seemingly ascends into the clouds. Previously-released Christmas song “No Snow” is also included, a smoldering original take on the themes of the classic “Blue Christmas.” However, not everything is dark and dismal, as evidenced by the album’s kaleidoscopic cover artwork: Graffiti6 returns to their familiar theme of sunshine, comparing it to the feeling of love on upbeat track “U Got The Sunshine;” on the intro and extended versions of “Beside You” that serve as the album’s bookends, a couple resolves to stay together through thick and thin.

In addition to several songs with a more traditional, radio-friendly structure, The Bridge includes multiple cuts more akin to jam sessions, following in the footsteps of debut album track “Calm The Storm.” While “Washed My Sins,” which first premiered on YouTube last May, continues to build into a frenzy with each refrain, others (“We Fall Forever,” “Resting Place”) feel a little too long and repetitive even despite their fluid instrumental sections. However, to their credit, these work to provide more focus on the band’s multifaceted production and instrumentation, which draw from the duo’s vast array of musical influences. Like on their debut album Colours, Scott’s smooth vocals are enhanced by TommyD’s production skills — from the sweeping strings on “Separate Lives” to the frenetic beats in “Washed My Sins” and “We Fall Forever,” the production showcases the musical expansion and invention that Graffiti6 has experienced since the release of Colours. As a result, The Bridge is a follow-up release that is anything but a sophomore slump — instead, it is the musical result of looking through a kaleidoscope, demonstrating a formidable melange of genres and influences that shifts boundaries while staying true to the band’s own formula of charming lyricism and adventurous genre-hopping.

Before The Walkmen announced an “extreme hiatus” late in 2013, frontman Hamilton Leithauser had begun work on a solo album featuring members of revered indie-rock groups like Vampire Weekend, The Shins, and Fleet Foxes. As the release of his solo debut, Black Hours, approaches in May, Leithauser’s first single is “Alexandra,” one of two songs co-written and produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij. “Alexandra” is an energetic number in which Leithauser loudly and proudly proclaims his love for the titular subject while seemingly questioning others’ tendencies to move on from relationships so quickly. Though relatively short, clocking in at a mere two minutes and 46 seconds, the song packs in fuzzy production, hand-claps, and drum beats at the beginning. Throughout the later verses, it becomes increasingly more layered with harmonica, guitar, cymbals, and a jolly, fast-paced piano, resulting in a complex sound that makes more sense considering The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend have shared the stage with the experimentative Dirty Projectors in the past. Despite the loud, lo-fi wall of sound that accompanies its melody, “Alexandra” manages to be upbeat and catchy from the first listen, with the instrumentation adding unique appeal and charm.

With origins in Los Angeles and Stockholm and a sound that infuses European electro-pop and rock with western country and folk influences, Grizfolk’s debut EP From The Spark has a heavy focus, both sonically and lyrically, on nomadism and soul-searching. Each of the four tracks included in the set deals with issues of uncertainty and adversity, particularly regarding personal identity (“The Struggle”) and lifestyle (“Vagabonds,” “Waiting For You”). In many of these cases, the subject feels lost yet soldiers on toward a new chapter of life — “The Struggle” notes how personal struggles from dramatic change shape them, while “Vagabonds” tells of the uneasiness that comes with such change and “not knowing where we’re going.” Lyrics about searching for someone and finding love could even be interpreted religiously, a connotation made more apparent in “Hymnals,” the EP’s opening track.

Musically, Grizfolk presents a diverse array of instruments and influences. As “Hymnals” opens, the buzzing production atop a light layer of vocalized harmonies and guitar recalls British mainstream rock acts like Coldplay and Morning Parade, while lead radio single “The Struggle” combines acoustic verses with electronically-fueled choruses more akin to recent tourmates Bastille. At times, lead singer Adam Roth’s vocals are reminiscent of poppier acts like Switchfoot and The Fray as well. In addition, country/western elements pervade the EP’s four tracks, adding bluesy guitar riffs into the mix. With cymbal hits, synthesizer hums, and echoing keyboard lines and vocal harmonies, the band presents a fresh, modern fusion of elements from multiple musical genres. As a result, From The Spark should be a successful introduction to Grizfolk for fans of a wide swath of musical styles.

Leading Coldplay’s upcoming sixth studio album, Ghost Stories, “Magic” eschews the group’s now-typical pop hooks and soaring melodic lines for a more subdued sound, both vocally and instrumentally. Chris Martin’s voice is relaxed (and potentially less polarizing as a result), resting above a bobbing guitar riff. Meanwhile, the fluorescent, echoing synths that were present throughout much of previous album Mylo Xyloto have been removed, resulting in a more natural, organic sound accompanied only by a few swirling synths that enter as the song progresses.

While the lack of loud and catchy hooks makes “Magic” a bit less instant, the single appeals more gradually with its subtlety and emotive qualities. Martin’s soft vocal delivery grows from the refrain of “no, I don’t want anybody else but you” into the middle eight, at which point he slides into a vulnerable falsetto, singing “I wanna fall so hard” as guitars rise above the synths. As the song reaches its climax, Martin admits that he still believes in “magic,” referring to the romantic flame that still burns between the subject and his partner even after a long time.