For Urban Cone — four high-school friends from a Stockholm suburb — creating irresistibly catchy, emotionally resonant music that has the potential to connect with fans all over the world is all they’ve ever wanted. Formed in 2010, Urban Cone has enjoyed substantial success in their native Sweden with their debut album, 2013’s Our Youth, and 2015’s Polaroid Memories, which was also released in the U.S. The band’s sound — feel-good, indie electro-pop — earned them positive praise from such tastemaker outlets as Brooklyn Vegan, VICE/Thump, Idolator, and Stereogum. Urban Cone toured Europe with fellow Swedish rising star Tove Lo and the U.S. with The Griswolds.

It was during their summer U.S. tour that Urban Cone began coming up with ideas for their upcoming third album, which will be released by Interscope Records/Universal Sweden. Vocalist/keyboardist Rasmus Flyckt and vocalist/bassist Emil Gustafsson had written and produced Urban Cone’s music themselves and this time they wanted to take a different approach. The songs on the new album are anchored by harder, hip-hop-influenced beats and funky guitars, while retaining those sparkling melodies that Swedish music-makers seem to conjure up so effortlessly.

After playing the song that would become their new single, the funk-ified “Old School,” for their American manager they knew they were onto something with their new sound. “It opened our eyes to realizing, ‘Oh yeah, we can do things completely differently,’” says Rasmus. “We didn’t have to stay in this one box.” “We thought, ‘Wow, we can do whatever we want with this,’” Emil says. Once Emil and Rasmus had several demos recorded, they sent them to keyboardist Jacob Sjöberg and guitarist Tim Formgren, who recalls: “We were blown away when we heard the songs for the first time. It was like something had happened between Rasmus and Emil and they’d been hiding it from us until now.” Adds Jacob: “The songs sounded like something we’d always wanted to do but never really had a chance to explore.”

Emil and Rasmus describe the new songs as more personal than anything they’ve written to date. Many of them relate to the album’s main theme, which explores the idea of happiness, why it's so elusive, and why we don't know it when we have it. ”With the first two albums, we didn't tell people what the songs were about, because we wanted the audiences to have their own story for what they could be about,” Emil says. “But ever since then, we’ve felt like it's really important for us to tell people what we think in a different way.”

Urban Cone’s newfound lyrical transparency is a direct result of the bonded friendship these four young men enjoy. “I feel like we’ve never been closer as a group,” says Rasmus. “Everyone has been going through difficult things, like ending long-term relationships, and we’ve been writing songs during this time. We've had a dialogue, and I think that you can hear that in our new lyrics. We have opened up a lot. We want every song to matter. On our last album, you can hear that we're friends. On this new one, you can hear that we’re family.”