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Artist: Beach Fossils

Album: Beach Fossils

Label: Captured Tracks

Review date: Jun. 28, 2010


Beach Fossils - "Vacation" (Beach Fossils)


There’s something to be said for a sun-baked summer anthem, but something else to be said about a lot of them at once. This is the only thing, really, that qualifies as objectionable about Beach Fossils: It chugs along amiably, for a deceptively slow 34 minutes, without changing much of anything. Where any one of its 10 songs (plus a seagull-speckled instrumental) would hold its own on a mixtape, the aggregate progressively erases their individuality, blearing them into good-timey wallpaper.

Instinctively, that feels like a pretty weak criticism. Dustin Payseur and Co. have a perfectly nice little pop-song-as-day-at-the-beach thing figured out: jangling guitar melodies that lap at your feet and ebb away, with an occasional icy undertow from the bass; muffled, cantering drums; heat-warped vocals yowling sweet nothings about what you’d expect from song titles like “Lazy Day” and “Vacation.” All of it is one unit of tape shear away from the Clientele or Mojave 3-Essex Green vibe, like the recording equipment has been out in the sun for a while, too.

For what it is, it hits the mark impeccably — time after time after time. All of the songs even end with uniform abruptness (except for “The Horse,” which fades out, almost as if to disprove the claim that all of the songs end with uniform abruptness). To blame an album for its consistency — for its albumness, in a sense — seems suspect, but if I can’t find a more persuasive reason to dislike it, I can’t find a persuasive one to like it, either. Could just be that this is one of those albums that I like just fine as a critic, but will probably never listen to again as a person.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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