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Beach Fossils - Clash The Truth

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Artist: Beach Fossils

Album: Clash The Truth

Label: Captured Tracks

Review date: Feb. 20, 2013

Perusing the blogosphere, it becomes clear how consistently the world of us swivel-chair musicologists have gotten Beach Fossils wrong, and I whisper this having never offered the band more than a passing acquaintance. For starters, I should atone for lazily tossing it into a pile of Beach/Bear/Vampires in the great band name yawn of the late-noughts. Front man and lead songsmith, Dustin Payseur is clearly talented, prolific and eclectic in inspiration; and he deserves a place in the industry far from the rest of the Toms-gazing crowd.

However, the whole “Beach Fossils is to surf rock + the square root of West Coast” equation seems spurious at best. Their famous call-and-response jangly guitar textures and ahhh-haaaaa-y indecipherable lyrics may appear summery and chill-out, but they seem far too introspective and opaque to be Pebbles Vol. 4 shark bait for the much-hyped “hero generation.” Rather, the track titles of their sophomore release, Clash The Truth, reveal more autumnal headlines torn from the diary of a vox populi in the clutches of a mid-20s crisis.

Standout tracks include the title track opener, hewning together a Modern English vocal up-front in the mix with a spoken-word anthem worthy of the late-Michael Hutchence’s flashcards. Next, with a militaristic post-punk snare rolls and bitingly cynical lyrics, “Generational Synthetic” scoffs at a youth culture, desperate to find meaning amidst all the noise, resurrecting some perverse Franken-’80s for the sake of authenticity.

The band lays quite a progressive groundwork, but the mood is uneven and frustration increases once you realize the first three tracks are the most interesting — they recall a heyday of NME relevance, hardcore punk, jazz and even some prom-rock ’70s groove. There are two fairly strange intermezzo experiments and a few heavier-hitting sing-a-longs thrown in to excite ardent fans of their self-titled debut, but overall the album sacrifices listenability to broadcast and hint at Payseur’s “I will say what I will” evolutions to come.

By Erin Leigh Zimman

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