Julian Lynch’s last record, 2013’s Lines, combined noise, folk and weirdo pop to wonderful effect. The depth of that record - every parping saxophone and distended guitar screech - assaulted the listener. It was a demanding, but ultimately satisfying experience.

Five years on and Lynch has been working to explore "new sonic directions," meaning he has ditched much of the percussive noise that grabbed the attention on his previous record in favour of layers of incoherent fuzz. Rat’s Spit feels like a bizarrely extended homage to R.E.M.’s ‘Airportman’, complete with indecipherable lyrics and the sparest of melodic development.

The album drips with layered guitars, synth and vocals, but the unambitious song structures undermine any sense of purpose or momentum. Much of Rat’s Spit feels like an extended jam over a single chord progression that the composer really should have practiced and developed a few more times before setting to tape.

‘Strawberry Cookies’ is the best and most emblematic representation of Lynch’s aim for the record; dense, with a luscious mix of guitar and synth and his stretched drawl barely forming words into a lovely melody. The pattern is set; there’s nothing to say that an album written around it should be a failure. Music is built on the concept of theme and variation. Here, while there is a great deal of the former, the latter is sadly absent.

‘Hexagonal Field’ is four chords in search of a purpose. Despite the richly embroidered patterns, there’s a sense that Lynch is taking too much pleasure in knotting together soundscapes rather than using music to tell a story. ‘Meridian’, constructed around a falling, glissando skeleton, has out of tune vocals squeezed together over the top of some out of place distorted guitar straight out of a Joe Satriani ballad. As elsewhere, the vocal tracks are all identically thick and cloying, three or four-tracked lines that enmesh with the surrounding waves of sonic noise. Only ‘Peanut Butter’ stands out amongst the morass by dint of its crashing introduction. Even that track eventually settles down into the record’s bloated template.

It’s a shame, because there are some lovely moments. ‘Baa’ falls on the noisier side of Lynch’s repertoire; the vocals are brittle, the inevitable waves of sound held back a little. Lynch seems to be battling with the temptation to slather everything in gloopy, glistening sound. On ‘Strawberry Cookies’, he finds a beautiful balance. It’s not enough.