Beach Fossils gets it right on new album

Brooklyn indie outfit Beach Fossils is back and better than ever with their forthcoming second full-length LP, Clash The Truth.

Christina Ellis | Daily Trojan

Christina Ellis | Daily Trojan


Though now a four-piece band, Beach Fossils originally began as the solo project of Dustin Payseur, who burst onto the dream-pop scene in 2009. Following a lackluster self-titled debut LP in 2010 (and the more impressive 2011 What A Pleasure EP), Clash is an effective expansion upon Beach Fossils’ original sound. Vast changes in production, consistency and musicianship manage to slip by without compromising the band’s dream-pop sensibilities. Beach Fossils succeeds in displaying a substantial amount of growth and fine tuning without fully abandoning the warm-hearted, DIY melancholia that initially captured the hearts of indie devotees.

The songs flow seamlessly — with scintillating and bright guitar riffs, delicate vocals and a relentless drum-heavy rhythm section, Clash seems effortlessly catchy.

The album opens with its titular track, which, over the course of two minutes, builds with an unrelenting pace and finishes the repetitive crowd-chanting of disjointed lyrics. The words invite the participation of an angst-ridden audience as a crowd of voices chants “Dream, rebel, trust, youth, free, life, clash, truth […] nothing, real, nothing, true.”

This track in particular appeals to a more punk aesthetic that will surely have the most austere of hipsters shouting along. Clash is by no means a cerebral track — instead, Payseur’s lyrics seem to appeal to an inherently youthful dissatisfaction with not knowing how to “get it right.” This song musically sets the tone for the rest of the album, which seems to have been crafted with a deliberate focus on the sound and energy of a live performance.

“Generational Synthetic” follows suit, showing Beach Fossils at high velocity and adding a bit of spunk into the mix of other more languid tracks. The track urgently presses on with lyrics depicting a sense of artistic frustration as the lonely, self-affirming Payseur sings, “And I will do it on my own again / And I will say what I will.”

Meanwhile, the gritty, jangly guitar on “Careless” makes it arguably the strongest, and no doubt the catchiest, song of the album — an impressive feat for an album that already sports many strong hooks.

The band also knows when to strip back its compositions: “Taking Off” stays true to the simplicity found in earlier Beach Fossils tracks, and its minimalist take offers fewer bells and whistles but is worth a listen.

Beach Fossils explores further territory by bringing in a collaboration, here with Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead. Makino lends her distinctive vocals on the fuzzy track “In Vertigo,” serving as a pleasant contrast to Payseur’s signature drone.

Rounding out the end of the album, bright guitar is juxtaposed by a more menacing sounding bassline on “Caustic Cross,” which at times sounds like a reverb-soaked unreleased Joy Division track. Penultimate track “Ascension,” a short instrumental, sounds like high-quality bedroom dream-pop at its finest and fades nicely into the rapid-fire drums and guitar of the frantic, very cool final track, “Crashed Out.”

Fans of The Drums, Surfer Blood, DIIV, Beach House, Wild Nothing and Real Estate are sure to be delighted by Clash’s jangly surf-pop vibes, while New Wave and post-punk disciples should also be satisfied by a familiar ’80s influenced structure.

Beach Fossils’ new release is not really anything new for their genre, nor does it necessarily seek to challenge any preconceived notions of the band’s surf-pop or dream-pop pigeonhole. However, Clash The Truth does mark a major shift for the band in establishing a group sound — and with the addition of new permanent band members comes a welcomed shift in dynamic.

Still just as delightfully despondent and introspective as in prior releases, Dustin Payseur’s lo-fi bedroom solo project has evolved into a finely tuned collaborative recording effort built upon an already successful model. However, unlike previous Beach Fossils releases, the album is not supported only by a few standout singles but rather by the fact that each track contributes uniquely to a far more successful whole.

With a fuller and more complex instrumental sound, an impressive growth in song structure and an unforgettable knack for catchy hooks, Beach Fossils’ Clash The Truth is nothing short of an exceptional indie record.

1 reply
  1. Joshua
    Joshua says:

    Great review, however I disagree on the terse description of the debut record as “lackluster.” For me, it was anything but and remains so.

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