It's interesting what a change of scenery can do. Beach Fossils made their mark initially with Brooklyn-style lo-fi surf rock, complete with jangly guitars, wistful lyrics and the laid-back vocal delivery of Dustin Payseur. But 2010 was a long time ago, and their third record, Somersault, is the band's first on Payseur's new label. With a little independence, the band have thrown themselves into new, more ambitious territory.
With his own label calling the shots, Payseur and company go for broke here, bringing in harpsichords, strings sections, flutes and saxes, not to mention Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, to augment their already capable sound. "Saint Ivy" matches jaunty, staccato strings and flute solos alongside questioning lines like, "Wanna believe in America / But it's somewhere I can't find." Opener "This Year" rests atop a bed of flowing strings, and Goswell adds a silky, whispery guest appearance on "Tangerine."
Where Clash the Truth seemed to hint at great potential for the band's growth, Somersault delivers thanks to more confident songwriting and a greater desire to move forward. The production has improved too: see the enveloping, hazy guitars on "Be Nothing," or the warm vocal harmonies on "May 1st."
This is likely not the third record Beach Fossils circa 2010 had envisioned, but the group are honestly all the better for it. They've always had an ear for melody, and here, the shimmering soundscapes put that gift on full display. The result is a compelling, immersive addition to the Beach Fossils catalogue, an effort that chronicles a band truly freeing themselves and expanding outward. (Bayonet)