Avalanche City's new album is a bright, richly produced, deeply felt pop record - but it took Dave Baxter some time to strike those feelings of joy.
About two years ago, it was revealed Baxter's former manager had ripped him off to the tune of $300,000 over time, siphoning his royalties into personal accounts and under-reporting Avalanche City's income.
Baxter says the experience left him "making music that I didn't want to make for a really long time".
"I had a big break because all the songs that I was writing at that time were just angsty songs with an undercurrent of bitterness in them," he says.
"I pretty much stopped writing for myself for a year because I found that everything that was coming out wasn't that cool."
"I wrote for other people and then had a holiday, came back, wrote Prayed For Love, which was a good summary of all those feelings, and then I was like, sweet - move on."
After taking time out to write songs with artists such as Maala and Openside, Prayed For Love, Baxter's lead single from My Babylon, was the creative breakthrough he needed.
From there, he wrote the rest of the album over four months, an unusually fast time for Baxter. Part of that was because he had a major deadline looming - his first baby.
"I was very much against the clock, thinking, 'I better get this done, otherwise I'm not going to get it done'. It was that sense of impending change," says Baxter.
"But it was exciting at the same time. I found that once I established my sound, I got into a bit of a groove, and I could write really quickly."
Much of My Babylon addresses major life changes; on top of their first baby, Baxter and his partner recently shifted from Auckland to Tauranga, which slowed their lifestyle right down.
"There's something scary about it, but also really nice in a way - growing up," he says. "Knowing that the way life is now isn't the way life is always gonna be. Sometimes that's scary, but sometimes it's almost cool because you're not quite sure what's gonna happen next."
With upcoming New Zealand shows and a European tour on the horizon, Baxter says he's approaching touring differently now that they have a baby in tow. "We'll just take him on the road and see what happens," he says.
Who: Avalanche City's Dave Baxter
What: New album My Babylon
When: Out tomorrow
Tour dates: Folk, Tauranga, March 2; Anthology Lounge, Auckland, March 8; Caroline, Wellington, March 9; Blue Smoke, Christchurch, March 14