Beach Fossils frontman Dustin Payseur sings: "Life can be so vicious and we can’t even appreciate its purities," on the titular and opening track to Beach Fossils sophomore album Clash The Truth. It's the first album by Payseur with his fellow band mates who joined together last year creating somewhat of a Brooklyn-based underground supergroup. The opening track features read vocals by the band members over a thumping bass riff and a reverberated, lo-fi electric guitar riff that's far clearer and down to earth than lead guitarist Zachary Cole Smith's DIIV project. Beach Fossils debut was incredibly raw, D.I.Y and energising. Payseur was the sole contributor to Beach Fossils debut, so it's interesting to note the differences and progression since his solo recordings three years ago.
Beach Fossils still have a surf rock feel to their music as much as the punk, indie and dream pop. This is why "Generational Synthetic" sounds like a fiery garage version of The Drums "Let's Go Surfing". The bass hits the listener hard as Payseur sing with delay on the second verse: "All my friends are far away, hit my head in disobey. I can't help but to forget, what is now and what is next." The structure is in traditional pop format, unlike many of the tracks on Beach Fossils debut album. There's something quite poetic and interesting about this track. It's the magnetic percussion and heavy guitar mixed with Payseur's floating vocal on the chorus: "And I will do it on my own again, I will say what I will." Their music is slightly aggressive and punk, without going too far. They're not a dream pop band in the slightest; they just share similarities such as the guitar effects and progressions. "Sleep Apnea" is a melodic acoustic track with plenty of dreamy soundscapes. "I won't lie and tell you it’s alright," sings Payseur in the final segment of the track where the percussion takes over. The lyrics on this album tell a different story to the instrumentation, although "Sleep Apnea" is ideally saddening.
The jangle pop single "Careless" is an instant standout. It has beautiful guitar and it the sounds like you would find it on a DIIV recording, mixed with the personality and lyrics of Peter Silberman and the essence of Aztec Camera. The opening and closing lyrics are respectively the standout lyrics for this track: "I live so much inside my head." / "I feel so careless in my head." This track, like no other on Clash The Truth features a chorus with a gritty, lo-fi electric guitar riff. It sounds thunderous and is a complete variant to the opening dreamy/jangle pop riff. Instead of a full fade out, Beach Fossils go for another variant of the opening riff with the acoustic version, or electric without the use of effects. It plays nicely in to the following track "Modern Holiday". It's an orgasmic instrumental with ambient synthesizers and a tight authentic progression. That ambience drives it's way straight in to the following track "Taking Off", where the album quite literally takes off. There’s a bass riff and a drum pattern before the layers of guitar enter. This time Beach Fossils sound like Deerhunter, in a freakishly weird way. Think Lotus Plaza and Deerhunter together, yeah that's pretty much "Taking Off".
"Shallow" starts with a heavy guitar riff and a secondary guitar riff with all the reverb and delay a guitar could ever need. This track is one of the key tracks because of its distinctive distortion. "Shallow" surfaced sometime 12 months ago as a single, Beach Fossils have re-recorded it with so much energy and passion, brilliant.
"Burn You Down" has moments of perfection both lyrically and musically. The progression is mind-blowing and the guitar effects again take control of the chorus. Instead of a pop hook like many indie artists, Beach Fossils have crafted a sort of guitar driven pop sound for their chorus segment of song structure. Payseur sings: "It's so hazy, what you're breathing, where you going? You're still dreaming," on "Birthday". These lyrics could actually be a description of the track. It's followed by an ever fuzzier track, "In Vertigo". It features Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino on vocals. The track follows the same distorted rock pattern of the previous tracks, but with an additional vocal edge with Makino's glorious vocals. The layered guitars do their job, however at times the track sounds bloated. With that come the lo-fi sounds that have featured on Beach Fossils recordings since 2009. It's nice to hear a band stick to their morals and continue recording music of the same nature that isn't the same winded down lazy progressions.
Clash The Truth could end on the 11th track "Brighter". The 30 second instrumental that mirrors the earlier "Modern History" features more guitars but fewer atmospheres. It sounds as if the album could be complete; however Beach Fossils are not finished yet. At just 35 minutes, fully needs the final three closing tracks. And they're not just album filler either; the 12th track "Caustic Cross" actually has the best sounding guitars and bass. The structure isn’t the greatest, or the vocal, instead the guitar carries the track. You can hear an extremely high pitched electric guitar predominantly on the right side of the track. This is the same feel as "Careless", where the guitar takes control of the chorus.
Beach Fossils hit the listener with yet another instrumental in the shape of "Ascension". Instead of the light ambience or synthesizers, this time Beach Fossils have gone fully dream pop. At 90 seconds long, it serves as a lovely penultimate track to what would be one of the most memorable tracks on the album. "Crashed Out" sounds like a combination between several tracks on Clash The Truth and all the post-punk 'revival' acts that fill up our 00s compilations.
The first few months of 2012 were run by Trailer Trash Tracys in my buzzing head. I've always got an ear for the louder, shoegaze-like variety. And although Beach Fossils are not shoegaze, they still qualify to be categorised as a loud, punk-like distortion heavy indie outfit. Compare Beach Fossils to whatever you want, it won't affect their output in coming years. Clash The Truth reveals that Beach Fossils may very well struggle with their third album. It could be the greatest album of all time, but if Beach Fossils go down the same road as Clash The Truth, they may not live to see their fourth album. However I’m sure Beach Fossils will live on and go far because Clash The Truth is a truly fantastic album. It's been four years since I've heard such a commanding album that could very well make my best of 2013 list, the previous being Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009. Beach Fossils have the upper edge on their Brooklyn indie rock counterparts. The singles take care of themselves with "Careless", "Taking Off", "Birthday" and "Shallow" standing out as some of the best musicianship I’ve heard from an indie-related rock band this side of 2010.