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Pop-soul band Lake Street Dive wants to spread a little joy. What’s wrong with that?

NEW YORK — Lake Street Dive wants to spread joy. Do you have a problem with that?

The optimistic approach of the experienced pop-soul band is also evident on the new CD “Good Together”. The lively synths of the title track drive members Rachael Price and Akie Bermiss in a duet about a couple in the phase of happiness in a new relationship.

In “Dance With a Stranger,” Price encourages viewers to make eye contact with someone they don’t know and take a risk. “Open your heart and dance with a stranger,” she sings, “until they’re a stranger no longer.”

Lake Street Dive explains the perspective as “joyful rebellion,” which is a seemingly convoluted way of explaining its nature.

“I feel like as an artist you’re asking people to connect with you,” Bermiss recently told the Associated Press. “That’s part of the mission behind this record and the shows – to connect with the audience. We wanted to call on people to bring joy.”

The band, whose core members met while studying jazz at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, has systematically built an audience with their own music and a penchant for well-chosen cover songs. A lengthy North American tour this summer and fall includes their first-ever headlining appearance at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

They won’t stare at their shoes and sing about their problems.

Singer Rachael Price (left) and keyboardist Akie Bermiss of Lake Street Dive pose for a portrait to promote their latest release, “Good Together,” in New York on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Photo credit: AP/Andy Kropa

“We really got going as a band when we were playing small bars where people didn’t know our songs at all,” Price said. “We had to learn how to get people’s attention. And we figured out how to get people’s attention by playing happy, joyful songs that had a catchy melody and a catchy phrase that you sing along to before the song was over. It was an act of survival.”

They are not optimists. Bad things happen to happy people too. But even Lake Street Dive’s breakup songs have a certain sweetness to them. One of their best-known songs, “Good Kisser,” is about a woman who tells her ex that when he badmouths her to his friends, she shouldn’t ignore the good things about her – like the talent the title refers to.

The ballad “Twenty-Five,” the best song on the new CD, takes a poignant look back at a breakup. “There was a time when I imagined we would be together forever,” sings Price in the song, which was written by bassist Bridget Kearney.

But the young couple in the story couldn’t bridge their differences. “I’ll be an old woman with someone else by my side,” Price sings. “But in my memories I’ll always be in love with you when we were 25.”

Singer Rachael Price (left) and keyboardist Akie Bermiss of Lake Street Dive pose for a portrait to promote their latest release, “Good Together,” in New York on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Photo credit: AP/Andy Kropa

Price discussed the idea with Kearney, reflecting on the perspective she’s gained now that time has erased the bad feelings. Price, 38, and her husband, musician Taylor Ashton, are new parents.

“The idea that something has to last or it’s a failure doesn’t make sense in times of growing up and in relationships and friendships,” she said. “They can be beautiful and fleeting.”

At a recent concert, she sang “Twenty-Five” as part of a one-two punch following Bermiss’s cover of his own song “Alone Again,” a song about loneliness delivered with so much humor that he probably won’t have that problem himself if he keeps singing it.

Good humor can be viewed with suspicion in music. The headline of critic Jeremy Levine’s review of “Good Together” in Pop Matters talks about Lake Street Dive creating “mandatory fun.” Another critic, Matt Collar of AllMusic, said the CD “feels convivial and lighthearted, showcasing their warm group harmonies and a nice balance of stylistic influences.”

It is the group’s first CD without guitarist and trumpeter Mike “McDuck” Olson, who was arguably the biggest influence on the band’s formation in school. He left the band during the pandemic because he didn’t want to travel anymore. James Cornelison replaced him on guitar. Keyboardist Bermiss joined the band in 2017, complementing original members Price, Kearney and drummer Mike Calabrese.

“Adding Akie to the band helped us create a lot more space in the music, and that was exactly what we were looking for,” Price said.

In 2022, Lake Street Dive released his second EP of cover songs, incorporating The Pointer Sisters, Shania Twain, the Cranberries and the Bacharach-David classic “Anyone Who Had a Heart” in his eclectic mix.

It’s a fun ploy to get attention. Early in their career, their cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” was a viral video, assisted by Kevin Bacon. Their live version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” also garnered attention.

They are careful not to overshadow their own music: In a 22-song set at a show on Nantucket earlier this month, the only cover versions were “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates and “Alone Again” by Bermiss.

They enjoy reducing other artists’ songs to their essentials, Price said.

“You learn a lot by learning songs you love,” she said. “You realize what makes a song unique, what creates a groove and what is crucial for performance. That has influenced our own songwriting as well. It’s an education and a gateway for fans.”