More than a solo project, Dustin Payseur has made an effort to take his band Beach Fossils in a new direction on their sophomore LP, Clash The Truth, “dis-associat[ing] from the home-recording boom from which it originated.”
As stated on the punk band’s Facebook page, Clash The Truth “marks a clear progression in the ongoing story of Beach Fossils.” The opening track, “Clash The Truth,” still rings true to the band’s notably grainy guitar based sound. There’s even some exciting, low volume chanting of “dream, rebel, trust, youth, free, life, clash, truth” at the end of the track that is bound to make any casual listener twist and shout a bit.
On the next track, “Generational Synthetic,” Payseur aims to lackadaisically criticize the partnership between business and art in a painfully monotone voice. “All your words are so poetic/ Generational synthetic,” he sings flatly. There is literally not a drop of conviction in Payseur’s voice. What’s the point of speaking your mind if you’re not fully in support of your own statement?
“Sleep Apnea” follows, sending the listener into a daydream of pure imagination. Here, Payseur’s monotone voice actually sooths the listener. While using the same effect, Beach Fossils also changes things up with the smitten duet “In Vertigo,” which features Kazu Makino from Blonde Redheads. Tracks like these have an airy texture to them, provided by the breezy guitar chords and placid pitter-pattering drumbeats that set a mellow rhythm. This performance style also stands out in “Careless,” a track that rocks and rolls from coast to coast.
Prepare for a lot of head nodding during “Taking Off”, a song that might make the listener nod off to sleep as soon as they pick up on Payseur’s rambling thoughts. After this track the songs get more upbeat, but that feeling doesn’t last long enough. “Crashed Out” closes the album in a swift motion, resorting back to the artifact ways of Beach Fossils with those shredding guitars and clashing drums.
In comparison to their 2010 self-titled EP and the What A Pleasure EP (2011), Clash The Truth utilizes some of their standard techniques, but overall the album doesn’t quite match up. Maybe the departure of former guitarist Zachary Cole Smith to his own band DIIV has bridged a gap in the creativity flow. Either way, this album took a walk on the darker side, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons.
We get it: Payseur is tuned into what’s happening in the society around him, but he’s a hypocrite if he’s going to judge everyone else and not acknowledge that the risks he took on this album were half-assed. With maturity comes responsibility. It makes the listener wonder whether he’s selling himself short, finding comfort in playing it safe and sticking to what we know as Beach Fossils.
Don’t get me wrong, the songs are all still a pleasure to listen to, each one streaming with ease into the next and emitting a wave of calmness. But in the back of my mind, I know that Beach Fossils is more than capable of producing something better than this. The ideas are all there: they’re just not fully developed yet.
Gold star, Dustin Payseur. You tried.