[PROG-GRUNGE] Everything that's right about Postulate II, LKN's fifth full-length, is embodied in one, singular track: "On the Ride." It begins in an explosion and ends in daisies. In a compositional feat, it smoothly encompasses the two sides of Lauren K. Newman (who plays every instrument on LKN recordings).

"On the Ride" ignites in a thick rumble of tom fills and midrange, finger-tapped guitar, and the higher notes slide off like sparks shooting off an electrical fire in fast, curved trajectories. Piano chords accent the changes in the verses; then, halfway through, the tempo slows and the finger tapping transitions mid-phrase into major, melodic piano. Three or four Laurens come in, singing blissful, wandering, Beatles-like harmonies.

Though mostly recorded at the same time as its predecessor, Postulate I, this record better represents the virtuosity and energy that characterizes Newman's live shows. It also displays a surprising pop sensibility and intimacy that—last I checked, at least—isn't yet available at LKN performances, which tend to be at smaller venues and basements. Still, the anthemic repetition of the title line of "On My Back in the June Night" over the song's distinct piano line (the sort of part audiences recognize and start cheering wildly two notes into) seems more likely to enthrall a stadium audience than many of the songs Axl Rose manned the keys for the last time GNR visited Portland. And the refrain is perfectly scandalous without being pornographic.

The problem with Postulate II is that, though its greatest moments are great, many of its tracks are gray. "Stratagem," "Passenger and Crew" and some others are likely to pass without leaving much of an impact on you—or, in the case of the album's closer, "7.20.06," with its refrains of "hold me now" and "love me," to actually turn you off.

But the one constant throughout the album is solid: creative and dramatic drumming. Cymbal crashes team up with piano chords to give songs like "Fractured Sun, Fractured Heart" the melodrama of a classical piece. And even what seem like the most ordinary moments on the album lie on an oil well of difficult triplets and rhythmical intricacies. The definitive LKN recording is yet to come, but Postulate II more clearly than ever displays the musical riches at this inimitable woman's disposal.

LKN celebrates the release of

Postulate II

on Saturday, June 2, with J. Dorothy Jones and Stick It In at Slabtown. 9 pm. $5. 21+.