February 7, 2011

Album Review: Beach Fossils' What a Pleasure EP


As part of the Captured Tracks roster, beach pop outfit, er... Beach Fossils, have attracted considerable buzz over the past year alongside labelmates Wild Nothing and Minks through a stream of cassette-friendly releases through the Brooklyn-centric label. While the latter two heavily indulged in the dreary, foggy sound of '80s Manchester pop on their respected 2010 debuts, Beach Fossils steered their brand of lo-fi into sunnier territory. Their new release, an 8-song EP titled What a Pleasure, could however be an indication that sharing a label with a couple of mopes is dampening the bands summertime spirits.

Despite the moody change, it turns out Beach Fossils wear these shades of gray quite well. The EP opens with the one-minute intro, "Moments," a blissful set-up for What a Pleasure's jangly, yet melancholy title track. A few lines into the verse doesn't make it very difficult to realize this is a breakup album, a much more visceral feeling than the carefree summertime sound the NYC trio introduced on their self-titled debut. "Fall Right In" and "Out In the Way" (featuring Wild Nothing's Jack Tatum) both glisten slowly in Dustin Payseur's memories of lost love while "Face It" and "Distance" deal with the after-effects and acceptance of the situation. The bubbly tempo on the latter and the subsequent "Calyer" showcase Payseur's talent in crafting captivating hooks even when the song's words suggest you bury your head in your hands.

Beach Fossils have also done away with a bit of the murky production quality on What a Pleasure, which couldn't come at a better time. The lo-fi production trend heard over the past two years has not only grown tired, but evidently masked Payseur's lush vocals alongside the crisp textures of Beach Fossil's guitars and drum beats. As an EP of considerable length, What a Pleasure marks a progressive step for Beach Fossils at the cost of a summer that isn't so much endless as it is hapless. Turns out they're enjoyable just the same.


Beach Fossils' What a Pleasure EP will be released February 22, 2011 on Captured Tracks Records.

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