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Album review: Beach Fossils surfs into lo-fi pop genre, loses former charm

 

Beach Fossils first released music in 2010 as part of a trend where surf-pop influence in a lo-fi sound began to flourish. Bands such as Wild Nothing, Real Estate, DIIV and even the likes of Cults (as well as whatever bands are based out of apartments) come onto the indie rock scene with harmonies that can be vaguely attributed to the Beach Boys and lead singers with voices comparable to a high-octave Ian Curtis of punk band Joy Division. The music is as beachy and carefree as the former but can be as complicated as the latter songwriter. 

“Clash the Truth,” the sophomore release from the appropriately named Beach Fossils, falls into this very sound. Lead singer Dustin Payseur tackles generational disinterest in creativity and absorption in apathy, all backed with jangly guitar hooks (practically a requirement for rock-textured music today.) 

The title track and album opener presents itself blatantly, “Life can be so vicious that we can’t even appreciate its purities / We get so excited that we can’t feel any of our insecurities.” Payseur then dives into a curt chant of vicious phrases which, although fitting for the song’s theme, seem superficial – considering the vastness of records in Beach Fossils’ genre, I fail to see how Payseur is able to deliver such lyricism. The same goes for “Generational Synthetic” which, almost by its title alone, is in league with the song “Clash the Truth.”

There are several instances on the record when a guitar lick replaces a chorus and allows listeners to distance themselves from Payseur momentarily. If the guitar melody does not take the place of Payseur it is far more compelling, such as on “Careless” and “Taking Off.” “Careless” is a screechier tune, at least relative to the rest of the record. The band behind Payseur is an omnipresent entity that does not make itself known too often, but this is not the case on “Careless,” where the guitarist seems to literally blow away Payseur. “Taking Off” is traditionalist beach-pop, with a riff that is far more grooving even in its basic monophony

Beach Fossils’ first, self-titled album was far crunchier than “Clash the Truth.” On its second full-length, it appears that the band has cleaned up its sound but lost an element of charm that was associated with that aforementioned crunch. Much of “Clash the Truth” is not so much mundane as it is heard of before. There might be something to be found in this record given its familiarity, but it might prove best to pursue surf-infused rock music in another artist. 

 

Grade: C+

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