If you’ve ever seen Beach Fossils live, you’ll know that their frenetic punk-like performances are in no way comparable to how they sound on record, which is basically the sonic equivalent of spending a lovely afternoon daydreaming on the beach. Well, that’s kind of changed now.
Whereas on stage frontman Dustin Payseur is joined by Zachary Cole Smith (DIIV), John Pena (Heavenly Beat) and Tommy Gardner (Crush), it was a completely different picture in the presumably lonely studio when the debut self-titled album was recorded and produced solely by him.
For Clash the Truth, again released on Captured Tracks, Dustin brought his incredibly talented and diverse live band into the studio to capture the energy, zest and spirit that oozes out every time Beach Fossils step out on stage. The result is an album bustling with punk raucousness, whilst at the same time keeping the signature lo-fi, jingle jangle sound.
The album’s opener, Clash the Truth, kicks off proceedings with a punk riff ripped straight out of The Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant, removing it from its Denmark Street home in London to a breezy beach somewhere on the East Coast of America.
The influence of the live band recording the album meant that there are number of styles running through the album. The first album consisted of songs that sounded, albeit lusciously, all the same, with sunny shoegazey riffs flowing seamlessly into each other. Clash the Truth is more complex than that, with the mellow and well, sleepy Sleep Apnea followed by the frantic Smiths-like Careless. Each song has its own individual feel and stamp, but that classic Beach Fossils sound means that it doesn’t feel like a collection of tracks cobbled together and given artwork, it feels like a proper album.
Having Ben Greenberg (The Men) on producing duties gives the album a slightly more polished feel, resulting in Clash the Truth feeling like a work of progression, a statement of maturity from the band. Dustin’s vocals are more pronounced, meaning you can actually (most of the time) hear what he’s saying. Having Tommy Gardner on drums also means there is a stronger backbeat to the songs, meaning they don’t just have to rely on the jangly melody.
The signs of change were already there from the What a Pleasure EP, which was musically and lyrically far darker than previous work, and this has unsurprisingly carried onto the second album.
The threatening Burn You Down… “Say I want and I will burn you down,”is simply no care-free Vacation, the lonely Generational Synthetic… “All my friends are far away, hit my head in disobey,”is no bouncy Youth,but it’s the sinister, brooding Interpolesque riff of Caustic Cross that really sends out the clearest message of where this band is heading.
Clash the Truth is a strong statement from the band, and whilst the dreampop sensibilities are unquestionably still swirling around in the band’s music, this album is a sign that Beach Fossils are looking forward to bigger and undeniably better things.