When Becky Stark gets on the phone, it’s tempting to welcome her back. Five years have passed since she and Lavender Diamond, the winsome indie-pop band she fronts as its singer and songwriter, have released an album. Then again, “Incorruptible Heart,” the overdue follow-up to the group’s debut, sounds more like an arrival than a return.
“This new record is totally surprising to me. It took some time to get to this record,” Stark says recently from a friend’s house in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I had written so much music in the last five years, and we had made one incarnation of the record that was nearly done, but none of those recordings had the right resonance.”
Resonance. She uses that word again describing the work she does with Lavender Diamond, which comes to Brighton Music Hall on Sunday. Then she latches on to the Los Angeles-based band’s namesake.
“It’s funny because we have the metaphor of the diamond — the diamond getting formed under pressure,” Stark says.
“It took all of this time for the music to be able to come into its form. The album we almost finished didn’t have the . . . the, um . . .’’
Her voice trails off and then comes back, but she still can’t find the sentiments to explain what was missing in those nearly complete songs.
“I really needed to have some different experiences. I spent over a year in the Decemberists, and that was wild and amazing,” she says of touring with that band and singing on its 2009 concept album, “The Hazards of Love.” “I couldn’t find my way back to the Lavender Diamond work. I went on some other adventures, too.”
That’s understating it. She made a record with the Living Sisters, which paired her with fellow California songstresses Eleni Mandell and Inara George (The Bird and the Bee). Stark started a women’s choir, went on the road with She & Him, starred in a short film that also featured Kim Gordon, and recorded country music with actor John C. Reilly (including a 7-inch single produced by Jack White and released on his Third Man Records label).
“It sounds sort of abstract, but I was really following a need to investigate and experience certain things, and it didn’t have to do with Lavender Diamond until it suddenly did,” Stark says. “I try as much as possible to do only whatever is most inspiring to me. I know that might seem like an irrational course to some people, but I’ve learned that if I’m not doing exactly what’s in line with my deepest creative desires, it’s like I’m a ghost.”
“I started making a solo record and wrote all these incredibly sad songs,” Stark adds. “I was jokingly, but actually truly, calling it ‘Agony Agony Agony.’ I couldn’t bring myself to bring that into the world.”
That’s especially amusing considering the somber and sometimes bleak nature of “Incorruptible Heart.” It’s entirely about the sensation of feeling heartbroken and the anguish of separation. It’s a small miracle that the album even came to fruition. As busy as Stark stayed between Lavender Diamond’s debut, “Imagine Our Love,” and its follow-up, she struggled with figuring out where her new songs should end up.
Feeling lost, she confided in her friend Damian Kulash, the lead singer of the band OK Go, for advice on how to get back on track. Kulash, who wound up producing and playing on “Incorruptible Heart,” suggested she put together all the various songs she had written and focus on them as a batch.
“It sounded crazy to me because the tones are all so different, but ultimately that’s what was required to really reengage,” Stark says. “I needed to let the range of expression exist in all its contrasts.”
Her voice — an airy soprano that swoops and soars like a delicate bird — is upfront on the record, but it’s often couched in heavy and foreboding arrangements. Stark’s vocals carry a gravitas now that wasn’t as apparent on Lavender Diamond’s previous recordings. It shoots into the stratosphere on “All the Stars,” bounces to a disco beat on “Light My Way,” and dips into husky torch singing on “Just Passing By.” They are moments that suggest Stark learned new things about the power of her voice.
“Yes! So many things,” she says. “The songs come out of a need to express an emotion, so my voice had to grow to make these new songs happen. I really had to surrender to the sea of emotion to create new limits for my voice. I like to think of my songs as not my own, but ones that exist for the world. They’re everybody’s songs.”