A lot can change in three years. When the Lehigh Valley indie pop duo Slingshot Dakota first visited The Key Studio Sessions in 2013, drummer Tom Patterson’s hair was short and frontwoman Carly Commando’s hair was brown. They were capital-L Loud – still are, to be sure – but back then, it was so much so that we had to tuck Commando and her keyboard in an impromptu isolation booth (the studio vestibule, actually). Their album at the time was the heavy and melancholic Dark Hearts – released on Topshelf Records, it’s a collection of songs about finding love in the tumult of early adulthood, a time when you’re learning to cope with things like death and distance and change. It was terrific, poignant and very criminally underrated.

Three years later, Patterson’s hair is long and Commando’s is red. The duo is more confident and in control than ever, so much so that they were able to loudly rock out in the same open studio space sans isolation for this week’s Key Session and still sound remarkable. Their new album is called Break, and its self-assured and driven in an effusively confident and optimistic direction, from the punky keyboard opening of “You” to the breathless note-bends of the closing title track. And the album finally finds the band getting the critical attention that eluded them last time around, from outlets like A.V. Club and NPR Music and Stereogum.

Once again, Commando and Patterson have things to say drawing from their station in life – “Paycheck” is a frustrated anthem for dreamers coping with the daily grind, a sentiment echoed later in the slow-burn pop of “Doreen” – “let’s make a promise that we’ll quit our jobs / find a way to do all the things that we love.” Since we’re longtime followers, it’s great to see this power duo’s infectious pop connect in a bigger way.

A bonus treat for this session happened when Commando and I were swapping emails to coordinate the session. She asked if covers were okay – and knowing their prowess at live interpretations, I said of course, and asked who they were thinking of covering. When she said “Tori Amos” my response was something to the effect of “OMG YES which song?!?!” Listen to them crush “Cornflake Girl” (plus the aforementioned three of their own songs) below, get a free download of the set here, via Soundcloud, and celebrate Break with Slingshot Dakota this Saturday, April 2nd, at Everybody Hits. More info at Facebook.