Beach Fossils – What A Pleasure EP

Dustin Payseur’s choice of song with which to title Beach Fossils’ latest EP could be seen as either a bold statement of intent or wishful thinking for their listeners’ feelings after completing this 20 minute-ish effort. Their bio on the Captured Tracks website promises “the perfect soundtrack to an endless summer afternoon”, which leads me to believe that the record label have only invested serious listening time on the Brooklyn band’s eponymous debut album.

The opener on the EP, ‘Moments’, picks up from where ‘Gathering’ left off at the end of the album and rouses the audience with a jangly guitar and M83-meets-Foals drums. Unfortunately (a tone-setting word of this review) once the vocal ‘aah’s come in ‘Moments’ has had its moment and ends rather abruptly leaving the listener to wonder where the climax is, which is just one of the recurring themes over the seven tracks.

Another two of these unfortunate themes occur on the titular track; namely Payseur’s monotone, echo-saturated vocals over a verse which relies on that old trick of dropping the guitar off to leave just bass and drums. A technique which Payseur employs on no less than four (arguably five) out of seven tracks here, giving the impression that he seems to think he is responsible for the recent discovery of it and therefore feels the need to use it as much as possible, which is unfortunate as one of the redeeming features of this track and the EP is the often wonderful and infectious guitar lines.

The influence of Jack Tatum (aka labelmate Wild Nothing) is obvious on the standout ‘Out In The Way’ on which he guests. The simple synthesiser line interweaves with another catchy guitar line and Tatum’s (thankfully) melodic vocals to give a depth until now uncharted on the EP. However Beach Fossils again cannot resist using the guitar-less verse which haunts this effort and here overshadows the presence of Jack Tatum with its ceaseless predictability.

Once again the vocals let a very promising melody down on ‘Calyer’, in which Payseur echoes my sentiments exactly, saying ‘I don’t wanna hear bad times’, but sadly we often do. The final track, ‘Adversity’, is another departure from the happier themes of the band’s LP and it ends this record quite literally where it started, the feeling being that ‘Moments’ is definitely more suited as an outro.

With this EP it is hard to see what is new or fresh about it. Beach Fossils seem to be trying too hard to fuse The Cure with Cocteau Twins to come up with an East Coast party vibe of ‘an endless summer afternoon’. What A Pleasure is somewhat saved by the great interplay between the bass and guitars throughout and Jack Tatum’s perfectly placed guest spot on ‘Out In The Way’, however the gloom of the monotone vocals and introspective lyrics, coupled with the sporadically messy drum arrangement, mean that Beach Fossils still have a way to go before they produce material which pushes any boundaries.



Released on 14th March 2011 courtesy of Captured Tracks.