Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Captured Tracks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Dustin Payseur has luck on his side. Just hours before Hurricane Sandy ravaged NYC, the Beach Fossils frontman finished his second album in a studio that was eventually destroyed. This was fresh off guitarist Zachary Cole Smith and bassist John Pena leaving to pursue their projects: DIIV and Heavenly Beat, respectively. Astonishingly, without those talents, Payseur is at his strongest, as Clash the Truth is easily the best thing he's done so far.
After recording the first Beach Fossils album in decidedly lo-fi fashion and mostly by himself, Dustin Payseur decided to make a change for the group's second album, 2013's Clash the Truth. First, he teamed up with producer Ben Greenberg (of the Men) and headed to a real studio (then another after the first one flooded during Hurricane Sandy). He also replaced the drum machine he'd been using with a real drummer, Tommy Gardner, and recorded the bass and drums live together.
Clash The Truth is an album that was destined to be completed no matter what obstacles stood in the way. So when Hurricane Sandy flooded and literally destroyed parts of the Python Patrol studio building where Beach Fossils were busily recording their second LP, all of their resolves were tested. Having started life as a solo project for singer, songwriter and all round musician Dustin Payseur, Beach Fossils have developed into a fully-fledged band.
As demonstrated by the battle cry/thesis statement “Generational Synthetic,” Beach Fossils’ second full-length Clash the Truth is a call to arms. Under a cover of guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on albums by Wild Nothing or former bandmate DIIV, frontman Dustin Payseur bemoans apathy, coining the derogatory term “generation most pathetic.” Thankfully, his desire to preach never impedes the album’s listenability. Let’s address the two dreaded words: dream pop.
With their guitars, bass, drums, four/four rhythms and heavily reverb-laden vocals, Beach Fossils on paper read like they might as well be named We’re A Band Who Sound Like Bands You’ve Heard In The Past. And they pretty much do. But there’s something about their aesthetic – a punk rock heart pumping blood to an indie pop brain – that’s just bloody lovely, despite their position being that of a group very far away from the edges or extremes of anything.
Review Summary: In which Dustin Payseur and co. emerge after three long yearsRight as I was about to listen to Beach Fossils’ Clash the Truth for the first time, after having been told that it was worth a listen from a friend, a realization suddenly hit me: I know this band. I have heard (of) Beach Fossils before. Clash the Truth wasn’t from this obscure thing, but from a band that I had spent minutes of my life listening to.
In the time since the release of Beach Fossils’ 2010 self-titled debut LP, Dustin Payseur saw his solo project evolve into a live band of increasing fanfare, translating reflective material into something fit for dancing, sweating, and losing oneself in the moment. It was a step away from the somewhat constrictive framework of the Captured Tracks sound, and it has since seen associated artists following suit. Friend and collaborator Jack Tatum expanded his Wild Nothing project to a full band in a similar manner, while former Beach Fossil Cole Smith gained instant acclaim for his looser and louder band DIIV after it served as Beach Fossils’ tour support.
Beach FossilsClash The Truth[Captured Tracks; 2013]By Colin Joyce; March 5, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetBeach Fossils' core member and head honcho Dustin Payseur has done a lot of talking lately about the music of his youth. If you have a passing familiarity with Beach Fossils' self-titled debut then you might expect Payseur to discuss half-forgotten memories of surfwax and shoegaze, but his childhood, by all his considerations was more of the safety pins and studded jackets variety. He's made no secret for his affinity for music of clenched fists and rebellion, a direct contrast to Beach Fossils songs, which seem like they might burst apart like dandelions at the slightest breath of wind.
The post-punk revival may well be past its expiration point by now, but don’t tell that to Beach Fossils, whose second album Clash the Truth regards the stark and reverb-laden early ‘80s output of Factory Records and the Cure as still-fertile models of emulation. The date-stamped ghostly sparseness of the record is its most immediately distinguishing feature—and a potential handicap. From the moment a New Order-ified takeoff on the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” riff (an intentional callback, judging from Captured Tracks’ press info) inaugurates the proceedings, Beach Fossils are a little too accurate in their replication of the feel and tone of 30-year-old records, threatening to mark project mastermind Dustin Payseur and drummer Tommy Davidson out as mere paint-by-numbers copycats.
Traditionally, punk has utilized aggression to communicate messages of anxiety through apocalyptic bass and scuffed guitarlines. Borrowing from the ghosts of disillusioned punk rockers before him, Beach Fossils’ Dustin Payseur strays from the syrupy reverb typically dominating Beach Fossils’ breezy aesthetic, trading it in for torrential guitars and thrashing drums on his band’s restless sophomore release, Clash the Truth. Given Payseur’s humble beginnings in a string of punk bands, the agitated heart beating through Clash the Truth comes full circle, particularly with the beautiful and skittering “Birthday”.
Dustin Payseur sounds confused on Clash the Truth and rightfully so-- the Beach Fossils frontman is dealing with some tricky stuff. The time that's passed since Beach Fossils' solid, well-received eponymous debut has given its name an unintended resonance; when we all pass from this mortal coil, songs like "Daydream" and "Vacation" will be artifacts frozen in time, informing our descendents of what happened in 2010 when the attitudinal tenets of chillwave were leeching into fuzzy, soft-focus indie pop. There's the big picture stuff too: how to let one's ambition manifest, what really endures in a world where so much is fleeting, the challenges of squaring artistic expression with financial temptation.
On the second full album from Beach Fossils, Clash the Truth, frontman Dustin Payseur announces on the title track, “Life can be so vicious/And we can’t even appreciate its purities.” This sets the stage for the entire album; it’s a strange melancholic dichotomy of despair and hope. Beach Fossils quickly gained momentum in the Brooklyn dream-pop scene in 2009 with Payseur’s, self-released and self-titled album, where he was responsible for all of the instruments. With the blogosphere buzzing, Payseur, who has played with many different musicians in the last few years to create the band, signed with Brooklyn-based Captured Tracks, to record an EP, What a Pleasure, in 2011.
In the ever-expanding indie rock universe, Dustin Payseur – the pallid, rumple-haired creative force behind Brooklyn's Beach Fossils – has blown up, grown up, 'Crashed Out', and cashed in. He's drafted bandmates, ditched bandmates, slicked-up bedsit pop, and scorch-earthed countless stages. Yet throughout four years of artistic delights and defeats, Payseur's allegiance to an aesthetic of clean lines and simple shapes has never wavered.
The second Beach Fossils album may begin by turning the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” riff upside down, but the band treats it more like ’80s college-rock than like a punk anthem. That sets the tone for “Clash the Truth,” which fairly longs for the age between gutter defiance and alt-rock finding a mass audience. The guitar-based, nonsynth side of New Order gets a substantial salute (with a particular nod to Peter Hook’s eager, scraping basslines), while the distortion, heavy drive, and snarl — a bracing shift from Dustin Payseur’s normally affectless, if genial, vocals — take “Birthday” into Jesus and Mary Chain territory.
Brooklyn-based Beach Fossils, ostensibly the solo project of Dustin Payseur, have become synonymous with a kind of aqueous, blurred indie rock sound that owes more to spidery guitar lines that it does to hi-fidelity production values. This second record, though, is something of a welcome reaction against that previously established bedroom aesthetic. ‘Clash The Truth’ is very much an album performed by a clearly-defined group, where 2009’s debut was solely the work of Payseur.