Next to the matching suits and having family members participate in recording sessions, the smartest move the Sadies ever made was hiring someone other than Steve Albini to sonically document their songs.
He's a swell guy, with a recording aesthetic that works magnificently for his own Big Black and Shellac releases. But as the Gary Louris-produced New Seasons demonstrates, the guidance of a sympathetic outsider who shares some of the Sadies' folk, country, instrumental rock and psych reference points is exactly what they needed to move forward.
That Louris also understands the benefits of a well-sung harmony and can tell the difference between a mediocre vocal performance and a great one is another big asset, and the Sadies take full advantage of it, with impressive results.
Stylistically speaking, they're not doing anything radically different on New Seasons. They've just become enormously more proficient at being the Sadies. This is the album I've been waiting nearly 10 years for them to make. Better late than never.