The Beach Fossils touch is so light and airy that it’s possible to
listen through a half dozen times before stopping to discern the
individual songs from each other… and that’s not a bad thing.
After listening to Beach Fossils a dozen times through, I’m convinced that Dustin Payseur’s secret recipe is to substitute guitar hooks for choruses. Not one of the tracks on this LP has a proper chorus, but every single one has a melody that stays lodged in memory beyond the first listen. Payseur’s sure handling of the guitar and talent for melody are what set Beach Fossils apart from the great (chill)wave of beachy, fossily, lo-fi-ish bands that’s been cresting out of Brooklyn and Southern California for the past year. Everything else in the equation takes a back seat to the catchy things that are going on with that guitar.
Just when you’re liable to drift off into daydreams, little bursts of clear unfettered sound snap you back to attention; details like the bird sample and snare drum at the start of “Golden Age” or the pixelized moonstepping (what it sounds like to me, anyway) at the head of “Window View”, and beach sounds in the closing number “Gathering”, which find the album effectively parting ways with the listener at the water’s edge. Mainly these details are useful as punctuation marks to alert you that a song is beginning or has reached its terminus.
“Well I can hardly stand, but I really don’t care to know / And you can take my hand but I don’t care where we go,” sings Payseur at the album’s opening on “Sometimes”, easily the saddest and most tense song of the lot. Wary of caring too much and of caring too little, Beach Fossils endorses a third way, of escape into a pleasant idleness. The album’s breakout single “Daydream” previously issued as a 7” by Captured Tracks, more or less sums up the album’s modus operandi: Here’s a daydream album fit for lackadaisical rambling for summer days along the edge of whatever body of water you’ve got handy. It’s not the deepest music, but whatever. A summertime trip to the beach really ought not be too deep. If you find yourself hating on this, it’s a sure sign that you need a vacation.