As everyone is salivating for the warm months of summer that are right within our reach, the hunt also begins for the singular album that best translates such a wonderful season into audio form. The ideal summer record is light, fun and breezy – something you can listen to while laying out by the pool or on the sands of a nearby beach. Typically a search of this sort takes time, though many are content enough to find themselves a hit single on the radio and simply play that over the next few months. For those a little more invested though, the band Beach Fossils might be a good place to start. Their self-titled debut album came out this week and it’s filled with exactly the sort of things that make these next few months so great.
Beach Fossils started out in 2009 as the solo project of Dustin Payseur, who quickly recruited a couple other guys to help him out not only in the live shows, but to provide much needed additional guitar parts, drums and vocal harmonies to his relatively sparse songs. The band was in place and armed with a record’s worth of songs when they entered the studio, so there’s no confusion with the thought that Payseur might have done everything entirely on his own. The songs are still very thinly constructed, but that’s not intended to suggest they’re weak, but rather light on overall instruments. Many of the tracks on the album are built around a single, cleanly picked electric guitar, a bass that follows along nicely, and drums that generally stay out of the way. There are no chords, nor are there many songs that offer anything in the way of a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. The guitars often establish a melody and then repeat it in an almost looped fashion for the entirety of a song while Payseur’s reverb-soaked vocals create the real melody. The guy’s not exactly the best singer in the world, and neither are his band mates who are often featured doubling up his vocals or providing (one assumes) purposely messy harmonies. The songwriting is also just a little bit lazy, not offering much beyond the stories and emotions the song titles might suggest. There’s very little deeper meaning to be found here, but keep in mind that’s also the point.
What Beach Fossils achieve on their debut is something memorable and enjoyable you don’t have to think about too much. Whether it’s the constantly repeating guitar loops or the creative vocal style, there’s a high likelihood of at least a song or two getting stuck in your head for awhile. Most of the album is just light and breezy though, and while that may not make it one of the best albums of the year, what it lacks in sheer brilliance it more than makes up for in easily digestible, fun melodies. You can turn this on and not have a care in the world. Its lo-fi leanings and hot weather vibe are eerily reminiscent of the band Real Estate (who they’ve toured with before), but pay close enough attention at times and you’ll hear occasional bits that are very New Order-esque as well. “Beach Fossils” could very well be your summer record, and as we prepare for Memorial Day weekend, put this album on as you’re firing up the grill and see what it does for you.