Release Date: Jun 2, 2017
Record label: Bayonet Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Whether you were in a squat in Manchester, or a craft brewery in Manhattan, guitar bands such as Wild Nothing , Wavves , Best Coast and Mac DeMarco were clogging up the Spotify playlists being blasted through your mate's bangin' sound system. On the more electronic end of the spectrum, we had the likes of Washed Out , Blackbird Blackbird and a fresh-faced gent clad in Urban Outfitters' striped t-shirts and donning a fantastic pair of circular glasses. He went under the moniker of Toro Y Moi .
On their 2013 album, Beach Fossils' main man Dustin Payseur successfully expanded his reverb-fed bedroom pop sound by including the contributions of his bandmate, drummer Tommy Gardner, in the studio. After a long break, Beach Fossils' 2017 album, Somersault, includes not only the studio presence of Gardner again, but bassist Jack Smith too. The pair also took on a more collaborative role in the songwriting process.
In 2013's Clash the Truth the Brooklyn band played with punk and New Wave influences. The result was more impressive than their self-titled debut, which was pleasant but unexciting, the sort of music you put on when packing your lunch to bring to work tomorrow. Somersault takes a bolder leap forward, taking tropes and palettes from 60s pop, grunge, and even country, and making bold play with strings and horns, piano and harpsichord, surprising effects, freer guitar and more assertive bass.
It's interesting what a change of scenery can do. Beach Fossils made their mark initially with Brooklyn-style lo-fi surf rock, complete with jangly guitars, wistful lyrics and the laid-back vocal delivery of Dustin Payseur. But 2010 was a long time ago, and their third record, Somersault, is the band's first on Payseur's new label. With a little independence, the band have thrown themselves into new, more ambitious territory. With his own label calling the shots, Payseur and company go for broke here, bringing in harpsichords, strings sections, flutes and saxes, not to mention Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, to augment their already capable sound.
“This year I told myself it’d be a better one,” hushes Dustin Payseur on ‘This Year’, the opening track from Beach Fossils’ third album and first in four years. It doesn’t sound like his promise to himself is coming true, but at least he can rest safe in the knowledge ‘Somersault’ raises the bar on 2013’s ‘Clash The Truth’. Previously, the band - completed by bassist Jack Doyle Smith and guitarist Tommy Davidson (drummer Tommy Gardner left earlier this year) - could be accused of being a little one note.
At one time, distinguishing Beach Fossils from their other surf n' turf contemporaries like Real Estate and DIIV was akin to explaining why you preferred one brand of bottled water over another. Each group performed slight variations of the same sparkling indie rock that favored a breezy mood over substantive lyrics or flashy playing. Yet, as DIIV struggles to catch their second proper wind and Real Estate finds themselves cramped against their own self-imposed sonic walls, Beach Fossils have quietly released their best and most interesting record.
Beach Fossils are perpetually on the cusp of greatness. On their self-titled debut, they offered an appealing collection that demonstrated more than just a flair for reverb. Follow-up Clash the Truth was moodier, but also less consistent, feeling like the band was trying their hand at post-punk without fully committing. It was still an admirable effort that gave reason to anticipate whatever Beach Fossils would do next.
After it launched in 2008, it didn't take long for Brooklyn label Captured Tracks to define its sound. Founder Mike Sniper had grown tired of the power-pop and punk albums he was reissuing on Radio Heartbeat Records, and he sold off most of his personal collection to fund Captured Tracks' first two releases: the sophomore Dum Dum Girls EP and his own band Blank Dogs' Seconds EP. By the end of its first full year in 2009, the label had more than 30 releases to its name, and within a few years, it had launched the careers of Wild Nothing, DIIV, Mac DeMarco, and Beach Fossils.