Previously a solo vehicle for Dustin Payseur, surf-rock revivalists Beach Fossils expanded to a more traditional guitar-bass-drums band in order to tour their 2010 self-titled debut, whilst simultaneously going through more line-up changes than Fleetwood Mac, Oasis and Megadeth combined.

Attempting to recapture the energy of their live shows, follow-up Clash The Truth, therefore, is inevitably a more expansive affair, introducing elements of classic garage rock, shimmering shoegaze and spiky post-punk into their nostalgic wave of 60s-inspired dream-pop.

Despite the constant restlessness, Payseur initially seems to be far more focused, eschewing the ambiguity that characterized his first one-man-band effort for a more direct and confrontational approach. “Generational Synthetic” [LISTEN] argues that the pen is mightier than the sword on a reverb-drenched declaration of independence, while the New Order-esque new wave of the opening title track [LISTEN] reels off a poetic array of musings about the human condition before launching into a protest march-style chant which suggests this time around, he means business:

Life can be so vicious that we can’t even appreciate its purities
We get so excited that we can’t feel any of our insecurities
All of what you said it went right over my head and now we’re gone
It feels like an attack when I’m asking for it back, I know

But from the lush and suitably lullaby-ish Americana of “Sleep Apnea” [LISTEN] onwards, Clash The Truth becomes pre-occupied with wilfully vague philosophical questions about who we are, why we’re here and where we’re going, without ever really attempting to answer them. Indeed Payseur’s “It’s so hazy” remark on the jangly guitar pop of “Birthday” [LISTEN] pretty much defines the entire record, while the squalling indie-rock of “Careless” [LISTEN] does little to snap it out of its disorientated state of mind:

I live so much inside my head
And all this feelings, all my fears
So what it’s happening to me
And the time is so, the time is so
The time is so much that I can see

There are a couple of less obtuse moments as Clash The Truth trudges towards its finale, such as the enchanting lo-fi “In Vertigo,” [LISTEN] where Payseur asks Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino to walk off into the sunset with him, a sense of carefree abandonment which is also reflected in the Is This It-era The Strokes-esque finale “Crashed Out:” [LISTEN]

Said I will love to bring you back
But I will take you anywhere
I find it hard not to laugh
With everything’s up anywhere

Clash The Truth, therefore, shows signs that Payseur is slowly beginning to come of age as a songwriter. But despite his openness to a little outside interference, it’s just a little too one-dimensional to achieve the same classic status of the records it’s so obviously inspired by: