Casey McCurry’s got quite a nose for the pop arc. On “Haunted Cloud,” the long-awaited debut of his Sunset Hearts project, fully realized melodies layer every turn. This record floats along with some of the best pure ’80s you’ll hear all year. Songs are intricate, explored and charged with all the crackle of a classic John Hughes soundtrack.

McCurry’s got some help in giving “Cloud” its bright silver lining. One remarkable weapon is Mike Cunnane of Huak kit fame, who brings purpose and color to every elaborate beat he contributes, no more so than on the kicker “Paw Palace.” Brandon Davis and Matthew Erickson add guitar textures to offset thick synths, while Sydney Bourke’s bass work pushes tracks like “Institution Story” with needed Cure-like urgency.

Sunset Hearts is eight members at full strength, and it takes the octet to bring McCurry’s ambitious ideas to life.

Occasionally, the Hearts are plagued by toy keyboard indulgence (the faux pan flute is especially egregious) or a sinking lyrical cliche. Turns out, it just doesn’t matter — McCurry’s songs overwhelm with pop quality. Many would function as strong tracks on a Killers or Phoenix record.

The Hearts don’t fear the cheese, and this is still a supremely creative, masterful effort.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer.