After an overstuffed, unfocused sophomore LP, Toronto prog-pop act The Most Serene Republic recaptures the promise of its debut on album number three, …And The Ever Expanding Universe. Bandleader Adrian Jewett tones down the six-songs-crammed-into-one excesses of his band’s earlier work and follows a more restrained, natural flow, without losing any of the swells of synths, electronic percussion, strings, and bells that give Most Serene Republic songs their vitality. The Ever Expanding Universe’s more direct approach often verges on indie pudding, that flavorless mush of wispy vocals, pretty melodies, ornate instrumentation, and calculated abrasion that so many young bands whip up and spoon out. But with songs like “Patternicity”—a full orchestral instrumental in the Beach Boys/Moody Blues mold—The Most Serene Republic displays a commitment to acknowledging and expanding on its influences. By the time Universe arrives at its final track, the lovely, explosive “No One Likes A Nihilist,” the band has rushed through a set of songs that rocket from clarity to clutter and back again, demonstrating how both can be strangely calming.