They're not exactly the stylistic or ideological descendants of The Beach Boys, despite what their nom de plume may infer, but that doesn't stop Surf City being rather brilliant. The New Zealand psych-pop outfit are partial to summoning a maelstrom of smoky rock riffs and the hazy murmur of lo-fi, often adding dreamy synth flourishes into the affected affray.

We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This is their second full-length effort, and it sees the band mature in terms of both lyrics and structure, as well as polishing the pop facet we glimpsed on their debut, Kudos. Far from sounding like a band from NZ, they manage to imbue their noises with the scruffy surf-pop revival of Wavves, Best Coast and other SoCal residents - it's nothing like 'I Get Around', that's for sure, but rather a sound built from stoner apathy, sandy hedonism, space-cadet 80s and the psychedelic '70s.

Taking its title from a fragment of eavesdropped chatter overheard in a South Korean bar, We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This is oddly poignant. The album was slotted together from segments recorded in NYC, Seoul and their home nation, whilst the members entered parenthood, traversed careers across continents and simply splintered from the project. It's an LP produced from a transient period of turbulence and change. The band themselves have noted that in a spray of ways, it's not a happy record - it's about the lows of travelling and the isolation of being in foreign lands. Founding member and vocalist Davin Stoddard spent a lot of time immersed in classic songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan whilst conjuring the record, but there's plenty of modernity too, with tracks like 'I Had A Starring Role', as explained by the press release, being about "days spent on the Internet with a tinfoil hat on."

While it is a contemplative record with oodles of opportunity to mope and writhe in desolation, it's not entirely sombre. For starters, there's only a certain level of sad that surf-pop can deign to. Lead single 'It's A Common Life' recalls Jagwar Ma's washed-out take on Bacchanalian revelry; it's a swirling heap, with silky backing vocals echoing beneath the lithe axe licks that shred through the sonic fabric like a bandsaw through a hotdog.

'No Place To Go', with its rousing singalong end-of-the-night mantra of "We've got no place to go, and no one to know," and 90s baggy hooks. It's got one of the catchiest choruses on the the record, and is one of the most suitably festival-y numbers on offer too. That's not to say others wouldn't be thrilling in bigger outdoor environments, it's just that they feel much more intimate compared to the relative sprawl of 'No Place To Go'.

However upbeat portions of the album are, there's a seeping odour of melancholia pervading the record. 'NYC' details Stoppard's lack of love for The Big Apple during his sojourn there, via fuzzy chords, acerbic lyrics and a garage-lite tone. 'Claims Of A Galactic Medium', though it saunters into earshot with jaunty organ/synths, bubbles with frustrated mayhem. Stoppard's voice is hoarse, punk-tinted percussion explodes underneath muddy bass, and an unrelenting torrent of needlepoint guitars all join forces to create angsty chaos that's the aural equivalent of throwing a temper-tantrum. It's brilliant.

Surf City have honed their craft after time away. The content is refreshed, much more streamlined and pop-oriented, with plenty of moments to groove along to. Though the lyrical meat is far tougher and there's a heap of sinewy lines to brood over, the instrumentation is a marked contrast - often sounding jolly in the face of dour, deep explorations into loneliness and isolation. While it is quite patently stuffed with sob-inducing parts, there's enough on offer to stem the flow of tears and provide cheery respite - the masterful control of moods and timbres on the album is one of its most alluring factors.

Surf City, on a whim, can stumble in the doldrums and grumble 'til the cows come home, or if they so please, can bop with reckless abandon like tomorrow were to be the rapture. It's an emotional horn of plenty, a cornucopia of feelings. Absorb their music and indulge in their take on what it's like to be alive.