The Student Playlist

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REVIEW: Beach Fossils – ‘Somersault’ (Bayonet Records)

  • 7/10
    - 7/10


Beach Fossils’ first album in four years sees them take a significant leap forwards in artistic terms, and it pays off frequently.

It’s taken a while for Beach Fossils to truly keep a firm foot on the accelerator. Thoroughly accomplished but lacking any reason to stay lodged in anyone’s mind, it’s often felt like Dustin Payseur’s ambition has fallen short of his gleaming Captured Tracks counterparts. Since their beginnings rubbing shoulders with their now acclaimed ex-label partners, the likes of Mac DeMarco, DIIV, Thee Oh Sees and Wild Nothings have all managed to string together a devoted corner of the market share, leaving Beach Fossils unnoticed and neglected.

Fair enough, their self-titled 2010 debut and 2011’s What A Pleasure EP both deserved recognition but its trailing partner, 2013’s Clash The Truth, bore little to get excited about and inspired the consensus that Beach Fossils would finish as merely a unimportant glimpse of yesterday. However, four years on and Payseur is still willing to prove his worth and his resilient return comes titled under tight-fitting connotations. Somersault is an acrobatic leap beyond stagnation and into what could be a new and defining era. Yearning to build upon what’s already there and push it to new and exciting dimensions, Payseur’s cries of “can we start all our time over again?” have never felt so profound.

The biggest issue has always been the regimented aspects cemented in Beach Fossils’ style. Perhaps Payseur mistook one-dimensional for trademark because Beach Fossils have never really explored anything more than the stripped-down indie-pop they’ve always dealt in. Instead, Somersault invigorates forgotten charm and injects fresh stylistic matter. By adding to practically all that seemed bare, Payseur and co have emerged sounding far more mature and well-rounded than ever before.

Instrumentally, Somersault explores a diverse collection of sound but manages to keep well clear of overkill. Though it retains the reverberated tone of Beach Fossils familiarity, the trio delve into string and piano arrangements, gentle jazz solos and even hints of baroque pop to help restore some life to their somewhat stale past. There are just as many moments of similarity than there are outlandish as the entire album weaves in and around itself. Whereas single tracks such as ‘Down The Line’ and ‘Sugar’ cleverly represent everything Beach Fossils once were, ‘This Year’ points a glimpse at the newly adopted production values and sonic layers of their palette.

The most extreme change of pace arrives from acclaimed alternative rapper, Cities Aviv. ‘Rise’ features Aviv providing intermittent lyrics over smooth saxophone and brass arrangements. Though completely alien to Beach Fossils’ previous musical ventures, the track feels like a snug fit between Payseur’s breezy presence. Elsewhere, Beach Fossils experiment with electronic influences. ‘Social Jetlag’ merges lethargic piano and horn arrangements over a beat that consistently falls in repetitive turntable jams. Even the track name slots in perfectly to create its eyelid-flickering properties.

Towards the end, Payseur invites us to reflect. His daydream desires to “be someone” on the track ‘Be Nothing’ begin to annotate his intensions for the future. It’s not that he regrets the last seven years, he feels he can achieve better. Beach Fossils are treating Summersault as their own musical revolution and Payseur is desperate to lead the charge. ‘That’s All For Now’ sees the album out in conclusive reassurance – the track name making reference to a return in the near future. It’s certainly not perfect but for a band that seemed all but submerged beneath the water, succeeding to recapturing our attention is a sure step in the right direction. As they wipe the slate clean, Beach Fossils look forward into a second and more sonically lucrative future. (7/10) (Ollie Rankine)

Listen to Somersault here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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