|Beach Fossils — What a Pleasure (2011)|
Beach Fossils — What a Pleasure
Album release: March 8, 2011
Record Label: Captured Tracks
1. Moments 1:05
2. What a Pleasure 2:33
3. Fall Right In 2:34
4. Out In the Way (feat. Jack Tatum) 3:52
5. Face It 3:34
6. Distance 2:21
7. Calyer 3:09
8. Adversity 4:03
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¶ Beach Fossils is a Brooklyn-based group, formed in early 2009 by Dustin Payseur. After signing to Captured Tracks and quickly pulling together a live band, they took off playing countless shows across the U.S. gathering a slew of devoted fans in their wake. In May of the same year, their debut LP Beach Fossils met with favorable reviews and became known for its jangly, single note guitar style, dusted with summer-fueled romance.
¶ As the heavy touring schedule progressed, the band became scattered with many line-up changes, including twelve different drummers and three guitarists. In between tours, Payseur decided to expand beyond solo recordings and collaborate with bassist John Peña (and label-mate Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing on the song “Out in the Way”) for the EP, What a Pleasure, which was released in March of 2011.
¶ Payseur takes influence from music, poetry, art and philosophers (Don Cherry, Ravi Shankar, Rumi, Lao-Tzu and Jean Cocteau), having an equal and crucial impact on his work. Beach Fossils is busy recording their sophomore LP, which is due for release in 2012. Steady members of the band have actively formed their own groups, guitarist Cole Smith with DIVE and John Peña with Heavenly Beat. Both of which have recently signed to Captured Tracks.
¶ Beach Fossils began in 2009 as the solo project of Dustin Payseur. Before and after the 2010 release of the S/T debut LP and 2011’s What A Pleasure EP, they performed around the world with a lineup that once featured Cole Smith (DIIV) and John Peńa (Heavenly Beat). They quickly became known for their highly energetic stage show, bringing the recorded work to a volume and tempo that would make even... the indie-est of crowds wind up in a frenzy. With the exception of drummer Tommy Gardner, that lineup dissolved to pursue their ambitions with the aforementioned projects. Wanting to bridge the gap between the live and recorded aspects of the band, Dustin began writing Clash the Truth determined to capture the urgency, human flow and spontaneity of the live performance.
¶ Now with a full time drummer (and co-writer of two tracks on the LP) Beach Fossils entered the studio in the fall of 2012 with producer Ben Greenberg of The Men. Instead of merely going from a "bedroom DiY" project to a "better fidelity studio project" the deliberate decision to work with Ben was determined to capture, if not in style, the spirit and enthusiasm of punk and aggressive music in general. To ensure that dynamic, the drums were recorded live in a room with Dustin on bass to give the album a driving and energetic force. Consider the titles "Generational Synthetic," "Caustic Cross" and "Burn You Down," it's easy to see how the record, while not a punk or post-punk record by strict definition, certainly nods to the first major influence of Dustin's creative spark. The first two notes of the title track that kick the LP off are a clear indicator of where his head was at.
¶ The LP also sees Dustin stretching his songwriting muscles, with the acoustic Lennon-esque "Sleep Apnea" and the dreamy "In Vertigo", which features the vocals of Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead). During the recording period, the studio was flooded and destroyed by hurricane Sandy and the band had to relocate to another studio to finish the LP in earnest. It all came together when the work of legendary video artist Peter Campus was finalized to be featured throughout the release and on the striking cover.
¶ Clash the Truth marks a clear progression in the ongoing story of Beach Fossils. Drawing from the previous works' melodic strengths and uncanny guitar textures emboldened by a sound closer to their energetic and cathartic live set, it's the clear next step in the trajectory of the band and the dis-association from the home-recording boom from which it originated.
By Martin Douglas; March 8, 2011 / Rating: 7.2
¶ If Beach Fossils' eponymous debut was the quintessential Brooklyn rooftop party soundtrack for last year, What a Pleasure is what happens when the party gets rained out. The band may not venture into genuinely depressing territory, but there's a wistful feeling that courses through it. On "Out in the Way", head Fossil Dustin Payseur and Wild Nothing's Jack Tatum sing in unison, "Everything feels different now here without you." The EP's final track is titled "Adversity". Clearly, this is a different look from the band who made being carefree sound so alluring on "Lazy Day".
¶ Even though the song is about the moments that make you overwhelmed with happiness, "Fall Right In" sounds anxious and contemplative, like it's a referencing a love long since passed. The pensive guitar lines have something to do with the feeling, but it's mostly because Payseur's detached vocals are too plaintive to display the exuberance of romance. There's a similar disposition on "Face It", where he pledges to "give up the city life" for his paramour. These tunes create an interesting dichotomy -- joyous lyrics delivered solemnly.
¶ The other tunes on What a Pleasure sound like scaled-back variations of themes explored to their fullest potential on the band's debut, which is odd considering how much more collaborative this record is. One of the biggest drawing points on Beach Fossils -- which Payseur wrote and recorded by himself -- was the way every instrument was written directly in relation to everything going on around it. It was carefully arranged in the way a jazz or classical piece might be. Here, Payseur wrote the songs along with bassist John Peña, and it shows. On certain songs, the bassline provides much of the instrumental melody during the verses, which spreads things out a little, but oses some of Payseur's compositional flair in the process. The aforementioned "Out in the Way" sounds like the exact midpoint between Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing, which is very pretty but also a little superfluous.
¶ This is rectified on "Calyer", where a sun shower of guitar work provides what is probably the EP's best moment. It's a tune that won't catch you as remarkable on the first few listens, until you start to notice all of the counter-melody blooming between the guitars. But this moment is fleeting, and a few short minutes later, the ending of "Adversity" is meant to sync right back into opener "Moments". It's one of the times where it seems like the songs on What a Pleasure bleed into each other, with the really bright ideas coming in small batches. It'll be interesting to see where Beach Fossils go from here, because What a Pleasure is the type of release that shows they're talented, but still have a little work to do fully capitalize on it.
|Beach Fossils — What a Pleasure (2011)|