Seven years ago, Brooklyn-based trio Beach Fossils tore through the city’s indie scene. They gave resonance to a genre looking for definition. Dreamy, lo-fi with some granular of pop and reverb, were staples to the band’s two full-length albums. The jangly ‘Beach Fossils’ started as lead singer Dustin Payseur’s solo project. Then, it became the thrashy, mid-fi, and drum beating group behind ‘Clash The Truth.’ However, comparisons to similar projects seemed to always lurk around them. They were pit against artists like Wild Nothing, DIIV (former guitarist Z Cole Smith’s dream-pop reinvention), and particularly, Real Estate.
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Now, four years later, Beach Fossils returns with ‘Somersault,’ an album that traverses (sort of) beyond their self-imposed musical terrain, and into a new realm of diverse instrumentation, reflective lyrics, and subtle nuances. With some strings, brass add-ons (plus harpsichord), and Dustin Payseur’s own label now backing up the LP, the trio is at its most accord and realized, yet.
The non-reverb, kickstart ‘This Year’ combines some strings and bright guitar strums. It is different platform for the band, that allows Payseur to introspect what should hopefully be a better year. Yet, to some listeners, there is still an eerie ilk to it and Real Estate’s tracks on ‘In Mind.’ The comparison seems inescapable. Thankfully, however, it does not undermine their musical efforts on ‘Somersault.’ The first track expels with charming and purposeful instrumentals. The next cut ‘Tangerine,’ featuring Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, is lush with harmony. The violin vibratos as Goswell’s vocals ooze over its airy chorus. Meanwhile, Payseur’s vocals and guitar slides bellow out in the verses.
‘Saint Ivy’ expresses more of Payseur’s disenchantment. Accompanied by a string quartet and jazzy flute solo, he sighs “wanna believe in America, but it’s somewhere I can’t find.” Its another example of Beach Fossils coming to grips with their quasi-new sound. A sound they still have a lot to figure out. ‘May 1st’ is a delightful track that nods slightly to ‘Clash,’ but with more linearity. Surf guitar bends and driving bass lines vocals meld with Payseur’s dazed-out vocals.
Next, ‘Rise’ featuring rapper Cities Aviv, offsets the album with a saxophone line embellishing Aviv contemplating the past. ‘Sugar,’ however, recycles lackluster, past material in saturated croons. What makes up for the two cuts is the stand-out ‘Closer Everywhere.’ The band immerse into a psychedelic terrestrial of harpsichord, Payseur’s dreamlike vocals, and confident guitar riffs. ‘Social Jetlag’ channels a draggy, trip-hop feel with fluttering piano melodies. However, the dreariness of the follow-up ‘Down The Line’ falls flat.
The album’s last outputs include ‘Be Nothing,’ that highlights Jack Doyle Smith’s bass lines. Finally, ‘That’s All for Now’ sounds unsure, but ends a lighter note with some cheerful, guitar chimes.
Even with beefed-up instrumentals, Beach Fossils still has yet to find their own identifiable sound. They elevate with cuts like ‘Closer Everywhere’ and ‘May 1st.’ However, they withdraw suddenly in parts like ‘Sugar.’ That does not mean their efforts, and willing to explore go unnoticed. Rather, their diversified sound, better music production, and resonate lyrics show they are at their most aware. Their conjuring may have more work to do, but it may be heading for the right direction.
‘Somersault’ will debut June 2 via Bayonet Records.