Spirit Award also enjoyed making Muted Crowd in just one studio, rather than Neverending's four, and working with producer Trevor Spencer (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes). The gauzy, a times retro-sounding set draws on a number of acknowledged influences -- including Brian Eno, Paul McCartney, New Order, Can and others -- and opened the working process between Lyon and bandmates Chris Moore and Terence Ankeny.
"On this one there was a freedom with whoever plays whatever instrument," Lyon reports. "We switched it up a bit -- I played keys on a song, bass on a song, drums on a couple songs. Terence, who plays drums, wrote some songs on guitar and instead of me playing his parts it felt more natural to have him play (guitar) on the songs he wrote. It was really fun, more organic."
The tracks draw on a variety of lyrical inspirations as well -- many dealing with the "Dark Night of the Soul" enveloped in one of the songs. The single "Supreme Truth" chronicles the Japanese death cult Aum Shinrikyo, for instance, while "Witching Hour" came from Lyon's paranormal experiences in an old house in Seattle. "There are some kind of dark themes," Lyon notes. "There's definitely some heavy stuff we're dealing with."
Spirit Award celebrates the Oct. 19 release of Muted Crowd the night before with a show in Seattle. The group then hits the road for a three-week tour that wraps at the Offbeat Music Fest in Reno -- with more coming, including a stop at South By Southwest and an April trip to Europe. Until then, however, Lyon and his mates are already plotting a third album, with plans to work quickly like they did on Muted Crowd.
"I think we're going to take most of December for writing and probably some of January," Lyon says. "We're starting to write right now, getting ideas together. We really liked how we did it this time. I think we work really well under pressure. I think we may be putting out stuff before that (next) record comes out, too. You don't have to wait until you have a full (album) done anymore."