Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Album Review: Beach Fossils - "Clash The Truth"

When Beach Fossils first came to be with the release of a self-titled LP, (back in those days of yore of 2010) they were quickly pegged as one of the best lo-fi acts to surface. Beginning as a solo project of frontman Dustin Payseur's, Beach Fossils' first release found beauty in its simplicity, all of the songs featuring a very similar structure that aligned perfectly with the name Beach Fossils.

Since then, Beach Fossils have released an EP (What a Pleasure) and Payseur has seen an influx of musicians join and leave the band, most recently losing bassist John Pena last July and watching guitarist Cole Smith's group DIIV enjoy similar success right alongside Beach Fossils'.

Beach Fossils may contain other people, but the music belongs to Dustin Payseur. And there's a lot of it. Payseur claims that the album took the last two years to come to fruition, writing 70+ songs in the process. Seventy plus.

The band's second full length album, Clash The Truth, released last week via Captured Tracks, features 14 of the 70 (25 percent, not bad) begins with an eponymous song which creates a backdrop for the album which shares the same name. The guitar loop used throughout is as elegant as it is simple, and although Payseur's vocals are gentle, his lyrics are not (the song begins "The world can be so vicious that we can't even appreciate its purities"), and the song eventually melds in to a post-punk shout-along.

The grace and simplicity are steady throughout and for the most part develop a very symbiotic relationship that really gives the album a specific focus; rarely losing momentum or your attention, and never digressing to monotony. The structure of many of the songs is reminiscent of a missing link between Joy Division and New Order: ostensibly punk without actually attaching itself to a cause or single train of thought; a prominent bass line and fast, methodical drums; and lyrics that can, at times, reflect a "I don't give a fuck"-mindset.

Epitomized in songs like "Generational Synthetic," the IDGAF-mindset seemingly serves as a criticism for modern music and/or a response to the "pressures" Payseur has dealt with over the last two years. Lyrics like "Trade a fortune for a song; what we wanted all along/ Oh, your words are so magnetic; Generational synthetic" are a weak criticism if it's attempting to be one, and make Payseur seem like kind of a cynical dick. But then again, he DGAF.

Dick or not, Payseur makes some amazing music on this album. Songs like "Careless" (streaming below), "Taking Off" and "Caustic Cross" are absolutely intoxicating. The attitude of the lyrics scream "winter blues" but the mood of the music begs for summer. Occasional brief interludes in between songs don't disjoint the album, but rather help glue it together; "Ascension" is an engrossing, minute-long, guitar-driven piece that leads beautifully in to the album's final song, "Crashed Out".

Payeur clearly is filled with ambition and talent that can be muddled by an attitude that seems prematurely elitist. I will deal with this for now, and just hope that Payeur's success will eventually match his apparent ego. All of this leads to Clash The Truth being one of the best rock albums that 2013 will have to offer, if not eventually holding on to the honor by itself at year's end.

My Rating: 4.1/5

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