words byRAJ DAYAL
"Clash The Truth"
On the second full album from Beach Fossils, Clash the Truth, frontman Dustin Payseur announces on the title track, “Life can be so vicious/And we can’t even appreciate its purities.” This sets the stage for the entire album; it’s a strange melancholic dichotomy of despair and hope.
Beach Fossils quickly gained momentum in the Brooklyn dream-pop scene in 2009 with Payseur’s, self-released and self-titled album, where he was responsible for all of the instruments. With the blogosphere buzzing, Payseur, who has played with many different musicians in the last few years to create the band, signed with Brooklyn-based Captured Tracks, to record an EP, What a Pleasure, in 2011. So in the span of three years the relatively young band has amassed a quiet following and has begun the process of distinguishing their music from the litany of lo-fi, dream pop, shoegazing Brooklyn-based bands.
While a good deal of what’s heard on Clash the Truth can be compared to offerings from labelmates Wild Nothing and DIIV, Payseur’s music offers a novel approach to this style. Payseur used to play in punk bands, and while Beach Fossils seem to fit in nicely with other rooftop party bands in the musically-conscious borough, at the core of the band’s hazy fuzzed out vocals and circular song structures lies a beating punk rock heart.
Take for instance the standout track, “Shallow.” The guitar lines are bright and purposefully carry the melody along. However, this cheerful sound serves as the foundation for forlorn lyricism, “And when I say, I go away and I can’t stay/ I know I’m done, I’m done/ And when you say stay awake and roll away/ I know it’s done, so done.” And even though this is rendered in a lo-fi treatment, it begs for the volume to be turned up where the punk infrastructure is recognizable.
This doesn’t come as a surprise since Ben Greenberg of The Men lends his production skills to the album. Another notable guest appearance is Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, who sings on another album highlight, “In Vertigo.” Makino’s recognizable vocals juxtaposed with Payeur’s delicate mumbling create a nice counterbalance.
What’s interesting here is that while the band formerly resided in the mind and talent of a single performer, outstanding musicianship can be heard throughout this album. The effect is to showcase a band that, while still at home in its dream-pop sensibilities, is outgrowing the rooftop party scene. Beach Fossils have delivered an album of shimmering guitars and an ebulliently bouncy rhythm that is simply a beautiful listen. [B+]
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