The second Beach Fossils album may begin by turning the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” riff upside down, but the band treats it more like ’80s college-rock than like a punk anthem. That sets the tone for “Clash the Truth,” which fairly longs for the age between gutter defiance and alt-rock finding a mass audience. The guitar-based, nonsynth side of New Order gets a substantial salute (with a particular nod to Peter Hook’s eager, scraping basslines), while the distortion, heavy drive, and snarl — a bracing shift from Dustin Payseur’s normally affectless, if genial, vocals — take “Birthday” into Jesus and Mary Chain territory. There’s too much forward momentum for “Shallow” to fully qualify as dream pop, even as the instruments bleed all over the place, though “Caustic Cross” and several others are too blurry to register. But with cuts like the melodically nifty “Taking Off” and the high-impact jangle-and-scree “Careless,” Beach Fossils find the right balance often enough. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Taking Off”
Beach Fossils perform at T.T. the Bear’s Place on Feb. 24.