Beach Fossils’ stumpy track lengths are a challenge in themselves. Is there something interpretative, conceptual, that I’m missing? The music isn’t anything like as intricate or highly woven as you’d expect of flash-in-the-pan tracks cut as short as 1.21.
In terms of make-up, this sound ruled King and Court amidst 2005-07s chump-indie reign; formed of dead drum-led, reverb-y dead vocals and strings which try to sound lost, but end up sounding confusingly bare, and not in the elaborate, wandering sense.
Ironically one of the longest tracks at 3.03 sounds strongest. ‘Careless’ benefits from its length, as its hyperbolic moments push forward at least some keenness for reaching an independent grounding, a grounding somewhat lost in most tracks which stand only as bland oddities, strangled and rendered undistinguishable.
‘Ascension’ sounds like how being badly caressed feels; and outro ‘Crashed Out’ has The Drums’ signifiers: uppity, impatient melodies and low-fi vocals. Of course, it lacks The Drums’ sense of scene-rejuvenation.
I’m not totally convinced Beach Fossils would even have been exciting in giddy winkle-picker-donning-05. And that’s where Clash The Truth hits real problems.
While Beach Fossils’ eponymous 2010 debut made good use of the then-vogue for languorous sun-kissed beat pop – in lieu of The Drums et al – its follow-up has little to recommend but impeccable concision.
Bristling with kinetic energy and slanty new wave figures which are, in their own right, admittedly joyful things, Clash the Truth might own a pertinence which would fully become the Brooklyn garage scene’s latest standard bearers. If the record as a whole wasn’t so very, very homogeneous.
Relative highlights ‘Careless’ and ‘Crashed Out’ are ultimately rendered interminable even at three minutes’ length, by a staid unambitiousness which courses through the album’s veins. It can be traced to the high-tempo, four-chord formula borrowed from all noughties landfill indie – and it surfaces additionally in Dustin Payseur’s non-committal vocals, and the veritable duvet of reverb in which they are embalmed.
Payseur’s is a style owing less to his New York indie forefathers than to the denizens of Mancunia – right back to The Smiths and Joy Division, whose influence make notable ghostly cameos in the likes of ‘Shallow’ and ‘Burn You Down’.
But why wouldn’t you simply opt for the real deal? Even more than Clash the Truth lacks a standout song or two, it’s bereft of any contemporary relevance.
I didn’t think the music on Beach Fossils Clash The Truth felt distant enough; it needs to sound more indistinct. So I put on my snorkel, pressed the play button and dived into the murky depths of my mysteriously GIANT bath tub. As I explore an unfamiliar landscape of lime scale reefs and rubber ducky nests, the music judders around me.
RETRO I think. They should have recorded it through a Tamagotchi. That would have been novel AND retro.
I head to the surface for a breather and as I dive once again I see a bubble bath horse floating past me and it makes me think of land. Of one trick ponies. Of what that implies.
However this album does have some interesting ideas dotted amongst the melee. The slower paced ‘Sleep Apnea’ with its dreamy guitar lines and is that a flute at the end? Or is it one of those sneaky synth flutes tricking me once again? The soundtrack like instrumental piece ‘Ascension’ is uplifting and pleasant. And there is ‘In Vertigo’ that feels a bit Sonic Youth and that can only be a good thing. Can’t it? Even with these brief respites it just all starts to get a bit too arduous a bit too soon.
I break the surface and blink in the clinical white tiled light. I didn’t manage to find Beach Fossils amidst those murky depths; maybe once I get the water out of my ears I will listen again and find something I missed before. I am not too hopeful though.