One year ago The Beths came to Globe Hall in Denver and proved the buzz surrounding their debut album was no fluke. Lead guitarist and vocalist Elizabeth Stokes owned the stage through charm and innovation. The Auckland, New Zealand, quartet may be pegged as happy indie-punk, but the exuberance in live performance came packed with intelligent execution.

Some critics, including Britain’s NME, call Jump Rope Gazers (Car Park) a sophomore slump. Don’t believe it. The opening track, “I’m Not Getting Excited,” is as vibrant as anything from the first album. But even slower ballads like the title track and “Just Shy of Sure” are delivered with the kind of lyrical wisdom and musical grace that often gets Stokes compared to Courtney Barnett. If this is a sophomore slump, fans will be leaping around with too much fervor to be doing much slumping.