Much has changed for Brooklynites Beach Fossils since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2010. The band has always essentially been the solo project of Dustin Payseur, who originally recorded the debut LP on his own. However, after gaining popularity on the web, Beach Fossils were signed to Captured Tracks and became a fully-fledged band, with Cole Smith and John Peńa joining the line-up that toured around the world. The release of 2011’s What A Pleasure EP cemented Beach Fossils’ reputation, but the faces of the band continued to change around Payseur.
While they became known for their impressive live show, the main line-up dissolved once more with Smith going off to work on his solo project DIIV and Peńa working on a debut album for his project Heavenly Beat. As a result, Payseur and drummer Tommy Gardner were all that remained of the band. However, with a new line-up in place, Beach Fossils went into the studio in 2012 with producer Ben Greenberg to record their sophomore effort, entitled Clash The Truth, with Gardner even featuring as co-writer on two of the tracks.
With so many changes and instability, Beach Fossils’ latest effort should be a disaster. However, with the talented Payseur at its core, Clash The Truth is a more than impressive return. The album starts with the captivating title track, which sees an addictive guitar hook and repetitive bassline support Payseur’s nonchalant vocals. It’s followed by Generational Synthetic, a song that sounds very similar to The Drums – another Brooklyn band who specialise in surf-rock. It has a rumbling guitar hook that combines with Gardner’s drum fills and a punk bassline to create a sense of urgency, as Payseur sings: “Oh, your words are so magnetic/ Generation apathetic.”
Going into Clash The Truth Payseur had one goal, which was to bridge the gap between the live and recorded aspects of the band, capturing the pace and spontaneity of the live performance. His success in being able to achieve this aim is clear very quickly on Clash The Truth, with single Careless continuing the punchy and thrilling opening to the album. Elsewhere, the beautifully atmospheric Shallow features another infectious and driving guitar melody, while Burn You Down shows just how far Beach Fossils have come in the three years since their debut LP, with its confident, strutting guitar riff and crashing drums.
The energetic backbone of the album is something that obviously suits Payseur as a songwriter – especially someone with a punk background such as his – with songs such as Birthday and Caustic Cross demonstrating a confidence and ambition that was perhaps sometimes lacking on Beach Fossils’ first album. That’s not to say Clash The Truth is fast-paced throughout, though, with the dreamy of acoustics of Sleep Apnea and anthemic instrumental Ascension providing a welcome relief from the breathless pace elsewhere. Yet Beach Fossils are at their best when they release the shackles and the brilliant closer Crashed Out finishes the album with another of those signature frantic riffs.
Beach Fossils may have undergone some drastic changes since their debut album, but as Clash The Truth triumphantly demonstrates, change is not always a bad thing. The process may have been difficult – the band’s studio was flooded and destroyed by hurricane Sandy during the recording – but the end result shows that sometimes a little chaos is required to allow a band to really express themselves. Clash The Truth marks a significant progression for Beach Fossils, one that will leave you excited about where they are heading next.