After recording the first Beach Fossils album in decidedly lo-fi fashion and mostly by himself, Dustin Payseur decided to make a change for the group's second album, 2013's Clash the Truth. First, he teamed up with producer Ben Greenberg (of the Men) and headed to a real studio (then another after the first one flooded during Hurricane Sandy). He also replaced the drum machine he'd been using with a real drummer, Tommy Gardner, and recorded the bass and drums live together. For many bands that start out as intimate bedroom recording projects, this kind of shift signals the beginning of the end as the very things that made them interesting (intimacy, weirdness, and immediacy) are discarded in favor of fidelity and some degree of professionalism. In Beach Fossils' case, moving to a studio with better sound has served to strengthen the impact of the music. Payseur and Greenberg don't change the basic reverb-heavy sound or the surf-riding guitars or the general feel of the music; instead they make it a little clearer and more punchy, which helps the songs hit harder. The live bass and drums, too, give the songs a raw energy that their previous recordings didn't have. Gardner turns out to be an ideal addition to the sound, never just playing the beat robotically but coloring it in with crisp fills and strong cymbal work. Payseur sings a little louder and with more force too, delivering some aggression on the uptempo tracks and giving the slower, more introspective ones some extra depth. There's a nice bit of variety, as well, with quite a few songs that stretch the Fossils' range. While most of them fall right into the sweet spot of hard-charging, underwater indie pop -- with a couple ("Careless," "Shallow") sounding like modern reverb-pop classics -- there are diversions into acoustic balladry (on the absolutely beautiful "Sleep Apnea,") jittery post-punk ("Caustic Cross"), and best of all, a wonderfully atmospheric shoegaze dreamer that features Payseur sharing wistful vocals with Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino. All in all, Clash the Truth is exactly the record Beach Fossils should have made at this point, reinforcing all the things that made them good while adding some excellent new wrinkles and boosting the production values.