My optimism was rewarded! The album rocks. They've gotten back to the very silly nature and solid sound of their first album. It doesn't sound like they're just trying to capitalize on earlier success, they've put enough good material together over enough time that they've come out with a fine record. They have more variety of sound without losing the PotUSA feel of the songs. The later songs on the album have an almost big band feel to them, or at least a passing similarity to bands like the Squirrel Nut Zippers: a fine, modern Jump band.
Now to see if the new REM album is any good.