Portland band if and it started recording its new album, “Sparkly Gold,” more than a year ago. In November, the band released a solid EP called “ratpig,” which only served to whet the appetites of fans waiting for the full-length release.

If you’re an if and it fan, rest assured: Your patience has been rewarded. “Sparkly Gold” is every bit as good as “ratpig.” In fact, in many respects, it’s even better.

The biggest difference between the new release and the EP is the production. “Ratpig” was a charming lo-fi affair recorded in a small mountain cabin, and the no-frills production only added to that record’s mystique. “Sparkly Gold” was recorded in a proper studio, and it shows.

A crisp and clean mix places vocals and jangling guitars front and center, with bass and drums forming a solid foundation. Little studio flourishes make a big difference here, like the echoing slide guitar on countrified numbers like “demons,” the curtains of organ draped over “hollow” and the hint of reverb added to the vocals on “weight.” Effects like these are easy to over-do, but here, they’re used sparingly, adding just the right amount of depth and color.

Musically, if and it has planted itself firmly in the indie-rock camp, with that semi-ironic, almost off-key vocal delivery still intact. But “Sparkly Gold” sees the band stretching out a bit, almost playfully employing ragged harmonies and, dare I say it — hooks! The whole album seems brighter, fresher and, well, happier than previous efforts.

That’s not to say that everything is all sunshine and roses in if and it land. There’s still plenty of melancholy on this album (particularly in the haunting “next time”). But it’s a happy sort of heartbreak, and on “Sparkly Gold,” if and it’s joy at discovering just what it’s capable of comes shining through.

Rick Johnson is a freelance writer and radio host from Westbrook. He can be reached at:

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