Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils have returned to the scene after the 2010 release of their buzz-generating eponymous debut album. With “Clash the Truth,” the band goes back to its tried-and-true aesthetic of dreamy atmospherics and mildly depressing vocals.
The seemingly counterintuitive mash-up of bright instrumentals and lead singer Dustin Payseur’s monotone musings is the main selling point of Beach Fossils. Rather than acting as oil and water, these elements blend together beautifully. The result is somewhere along the lines of contemporaries such as Wild Nothing, The Radio Dept. and a toned-down version of The Drums.
Beach Fossils’ orchestration allows each musical component to shine through at one point or another. Some tracks showcase the snappy and borderline militaristic snare drum patterns. Other songs point the spotlight toward jumpy unfettered bass lines that keep the otherwise blissful and drifting tracks grounded in reality.
In addition to the token indie rock style, “Clash the Truth” also samples some classic surf rock. “Caustic Cross” features a frantic guitar riff reminiscent of the Dick Dale glory days. A second guitar line bends its pitch throughout the track, adding a tantalizing bit of dissonance. This dissonance is eventually resolved and it melds back into place.
On “Generational Synthetic,” Payseur reflects upon one of the music industry’s growing trends: corporate sponsorship. The track perfectly exemplifies Beach Fossils’ ability to take less than favorable subject matter and pair it with upbeat instrumentals. Payseur laments the influence of money on artistic creation when he sings, “Trade a fortune for a soul / What we wanted all along.”
With “Clash the Truth,” Beach Fossils have proven the hype machine is relatively accurate at times. They manage to dodge the sophomore slump and put forth an album that recalls the success of their touted debut.
3 ½ stars