The Elephant 6 buzz has long since worn off, so what do those idiosyncratic Athens-era bands do now? They grow up and start releasing the best music of their careers. Great Lakes' third album, Diamond Times , sounds classic rather than quirky. It's confidently balanced and rippling with soft rock touches, plenty of country and folk elements and hooky pop.

The 10 cuts are bolstered by a who's-who of likeminded artists (members of the Essex Green and Of Montreal drop in to have some fun) who sprinkle tracks with pedal steel, sax, clarinet, organ, harmonies and robust guitars. Dan Donahue and Ben Crum tweak conventions, adding subtle psychedelics to Americana-influenced material such as “The Pinks and the Purples,” “The Moon and the Lunatics” and “Shaky Faith.”

They get new wavy on the fuzzy rocker “Farther” and go retro on the faux-'50s nugget “Hot Cosmos.” Despite the musical diversity, Great Lakes keeps everything fundamentally absorbing and genuine, in the process crafting one of this year's most underrated gems.

Grade: A