Standout Track: No. 2, “Run Amelia,” is a slinky power-pop kiss-off laced with a chunky, riff-addled chorus. Mudd mingles a lonesome, single piano note with spacious chord changes and a winsome melody on the verses. But it’s a head-fake, as well as the target of Mudd’s mug-shot character sketch: “Your lies pace like animals,” he intones as the chorus’ Godzilla guitars gear up for another round. “I love the juxtaposition of big, in-your-face guitars and spare verses that open up and breathe,” Mudd says. “We really tried to do that a lot on this record. So many bands jump back and forth between full-throttle and barely there. There’s a lot of interesting space to navigate in between.”

Musical Motivation: “Run Amelia” has floated around since at least 2007. Between then and now, Mudd worked (and reworked) just about every angle of the tune—everything save the damning accusation at its core. “I’m amazed by how society tolerates lying. Politicians, athletes, talk-show hosts, media-hungry dads, the lady who lives across the street—everyone lies, everyone gets away with it, and nobody seems to consider the huge personal cost,” he says. “I built ‘Run Amelia’ around a line”—“your lies pace like animals, pulling on their chains”—that tries to get at that moment when the deceit is revealed and the jig is up.”

The Middle Eight State:

A veteran of the North Carolina music scene that spawned Ben Folds and the dBs, Mudd knows whereof he plays. “Anyone who ever spent time in N.C. is in love with pop hooks,” he says. “Whether you’re playing folk or hardcore or rock ’n’ roll, the memorable, singable refrain is the Holy Grail. We’re not at all guilty about our guilty pleasures. I was lucky to get to make this record with some N.C. transplants here in D.C.—they helped sharpen the hooks.”