Michael Rault Credit: Mat Dunlap

On his latest album, It’s a New Day Tonight (Wick), Montreal tunesmith Michael Rault takes a big leap forward, sharpening his pop instincts and shedding the glammy specter of Marc Bolan and T. Rex that haunted its predecessor, Living Daylight. He hasn’t exactly stepped into the present, though; nearly every crisp arrangement and irresistible hook conjures 70s AM pop-rock radio, and the sparkling production by Wayne Gordon, head engineer at New York’s Daptone studio, only sharpens the music’s bite. This time around Rault has forged a set of songs steeped in the sweet melodiousness of Big Star, the Beatles, and Wings, the fizz of one-hit wonders Pilot, and occasionally the hot-tub soft-rock extravagance of 10cc. Bassist Benny Trokan underlines the tunefulness with nimble lines that lope and chug, girding every song with a snappy precision and providing ballast for the strings that gild some of the tracks. Rault is an auteur, laying down gorgeous harmonies with his lead vocals and cutting out any trace of fat—these songs get the job done with little fuss. The album title is taken from a postgame interview with a pro hockey player who said, “It’s a new day tonight, we’ve got to put the past behind us.” As oxymoronic as that sentence may be, it reflects a certain vacuity in Rault’s lyrics, which on New Day Tonight feel more like placeholders than expressions of anything we haven’t heard before. But when the music is so catchy and assembled with such elegant craftsmanship, I don’t care.   v