Beach Fossils - Clash the Truth - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Beach Fossils - Clash the Truth

by Steve Rhodes Rating:7.5 Release Date:2013-02-18

Brooklyn's Captured Tracks have released some of the most exciting music in the last couple of years from over the shores, with artists such as Mac DeMarco, Diiv, Widowspeak, The Soft Moon recently producing strong, innovative albums. In addition, having had the initiative to obtain the rights to reissue large chunks of New Zealand's enigmatic Flying Nun back catalogue on vinyl, they are at the forefront, and never moreso than with Beach Fossils, the original employer of Zachary Cole Smith from Diiv. The band has shared not only members but healthy DNA with the exciting Diiv, as comfortably demonstrated on Clash the Truth.

The title track begins with a polite guitar riff with unnerving similarity to The Sex Pistols' 'Pretty Vacant'. While possessing less effects than Diiv, it operates a similar manifesto. Speedy drumming; a spiky bass beamed direct from the 80s; melodious chiming guitars, and a slightly treated ephemeral vocal are prevalent throughout. It is a charming opener, and closes with a mantric chanting vocal of single syllable words which borders on sloganeering: "Truth, rebel, trust, youth..."

This template is followed pretty much to the letter with just a little variation on much of the album. 'Burn You Down', in its Ride-meets-C86 vibe, continues the buried, echoed vocals, although, like The Arcade Fire, the sound feels a little too polished and forced. 'Generational Synthetic' puts a punchy bass and frenetic, military drumming back in the mix, coming across like The Horrors without the layers of processed synths. Elsewhere, 'Shallow' has a more direct lineage to Diiv. With greater production, it's jam-packed full of melody and soaring guitars, while 'Crashed Out' uses direct, Interpol-like riffs, neatly closing the album.

Though the songs flow pretty uniformly, there are a number of tracks which communicate better than the rest of the album. The jangly 'Careless' again finds its home in the late-80s and early-90s, with Secret Shine a notable influence, but has more impetus and direction, with nicely treated, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-style guitars at the centre. 'In Vertigo' benefits from an intriguing guest vocal from Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino, adding sensuality to a sometime distant record, and 'Taking Off' increases the riffs, with lightly shredded guitars. The vocals, not far off 'Velocity Girl'-era Primal Scream, while predominant, don't dominate, allowing the chiming, melodious backing to carry the song.

Almost as interludes to the hectic pace, several instrumentals strongly feature. Both 'Modern Holiday' and 'Brighter' are welcome stop-gaps, slower numbers with increased use of synths and atmosphere, but the extraordinary 'Ascension' really stands out, with nods to the fuzziness of Flying Saucer Attack and a subtle use of distortion in its glorious descending scales.

The woozy 'Sleep Apnea' is the highlight, a slower number with an electrified, spacious, acoustic guitar and barely audible loops and noises. Bordering on the theme tune from M*A*S*H on occasion, it is a delightful, laid-back song which could easily feature in the Sarah Records back catalogue, with strong hints towards The Field Mice and The Orchids, but also to Hood or Animal Collective in the almost effortless, relaxed vocal.

Though Beach Fossils seem to have been overshadowed by the success of their former alumni and it's difficult not to make comparisons between them and Diiv, this does not detract from the band having made a solid, melodious guitar album in Clash the Truth. A strong, consistent release that's not afraid to delve into the past, it equally sounds as fresh today, if not more so, than works by many other artists in a similar field.

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