Beach Fossils: Clash The Truth
Way back in 2010 Beach Fossils put out this lo fi gem of a debut. It sounded like it was recorded in a 8 X 12 space, Dustin Payseur accompanied by nothing more than the light of the day as it shone through the bedroom window. You got the feeling of genuine joy coming through each Byrds-y guitar note. It was a nostalgia trip that you never wanted to come to the end of. It was the sound of The Troggs getting mellow with Roger McGuinn. The vocals were blanketed in just enough reverb, the guitars were just jangly enough, and just enough sandy grit to make you question whether this was a modern record or some long lost nugget Captured Tracks reissued for us not in the know. Nearly three years, a couple singles and on e.p. later Payseur has followed up that debut with Clash The Truth. It’s got the sheen of a full-on studio production, the heft of a full band, and dark undertones of a guy that has gone through a thing or two in the last 3 years. At first listen, you’ll nod your head acceptingly. Maybe you’ll wonder what happened to that little scamp that gave us such a rough-around-the-edges classic just a couple years ago. Then after the second listen, you’ll want to listen to it a third time. By then, you’ll be hooked.
Clash The Truth opens with the title track and it’s a perfect opening to this record. The sonic difference is immediate. Gone is the sandy graininess. You can make a great indie album, even without the 4-track and third generation cassette, and Beach Fossils prove that within the first 20 seconds of this album. It’s a driving track, with a solid rhythm section and a ringing guitar line as Payseur introduces us to the grown up Beach Fossils. When I first heard ‘Generational Synthetic’ a couple months ago I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It was in that grey zone for me. Once I heard it in the context of this album though it clicked. There’s a warmth to the rhythm -throughout the entire album- that pulls you into the record. The snare snaps, the bass pulls you along like a kid wanting to show you his art project. Despite the new sonic landscapes, you still fall for Payseur’s joy for making music. ‘Sleep Apnea’ is a song that had it appeared on the debut it wouldn’t have had the heft that it possesses on Clash The Truth. It’s a slow-burning track filled with longing. ‘Careless’ bounces along like a lost New Order track. ‘Shallow’ brings to mind one of Payseur’s peers bands; Jack Tatum’s Wild Nothing. There are many that attempt this sleight-of-hand trick of resurrecting the untouchable 80s 4AD years, but only a few do it as well as Dustin Payseur and Jack Tatum. ‘In Vertigo’ sounds like IRS-era R.E.M. Part jangle, part ragged beauty. ‘Caustic Cross’ sounds like a not-so pissed Interpol. ‘Crashed Out’ ends Clash The Truth on a driving, yet melancholy note.
Clash The Truth isn’t the scrappy little lo fi record that Beach Fossils debut was. It’s got a studio shine on it that some will pooh pooh about. Well, if you want grit and grain, go check out the new GBV. Dustin Payseur has moved onto new sounds and bigger ideas. With Wild Nothing and former bandmate Zachary Cole Smith’s band Diiv releasing two of 2012s best records in Nocturne and Oshin respectively, you’d think Beach Fossils might’ve been a little nervous. Clash The Truth proves, nervous or not, Dustin Payseur does his best work under pressure.
9 out of 10