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Beach Fossils - What A Pleasure

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Artist: Beach Fossils

Album: What A Pleasure

Label: Captured Tracks

Review date: Apr. 27, 2011

Last spring, Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils released its solid, if a bit snoozy, self-titled debut on Captured Tracks. The album received decent acclaim for its tight, subtle indie-rock, becoming a go-to pick for the hazy, hot days of a New York summer.

On What A Pleasure, Dustin Payseur executes an enviable follow-up turn. The act has matured in an impressive number of ways. Beach Fossils’ core M.O. hasn’t changed much, yet this album feels significantly sharper than its predecessor. The recording is crisp, the songs strong, the entire atmosphere confident and secure.

Additionally, Payseur made a smart decision regarding album length. In sticking with an eight-track EP clocking in at under a quarter of an hour, there is less opportunity for that dreaded slouching sophomore slump. The album opens with the ringing guitars, cascading drums and vocal coos of "Moments," and the motif is repeated during the final moments of closing track "Adversity” — a classy touch of continuity.

One key to the Beach Fossils’ appeal is the ability to build a sound that seems sun-dappled and slack—perfect for windows open during a summer drive — yet is built upon taught instrumental interplay. “Fall Right In” slides along with Payseur’s heavy-lidded vocals, but what ultimately makes the track beg for repeat listens is the rhythm section’s simplistic, yet air-locked grip. “Face It,” previously released on a 7” with fellow album track “Distance,” is flagship Beach Fossils. Payseur fantasizes alternately about retreating from both city and country, declaring “I fall for you anytime” (and one would assume, anywhere). The jaunty bass and punctuated drumming offer up a fine counterbalance to quietly spiraling guitars and dewy female backing vocals.

“Out in the Way,” a collaboration with doppelganger Jack Tatum of fellow Brooklynites Wild Nothing, seasons the mix with some mildly goth keyboards. It’s the biggest departure on the album and sounds as if the band painted on some eyeliner in an attempt to exhibit the nocturnal, vaguely camp alternative to its sunny strum.

What A Pleasure drips with what so many second-outings lack: promise. If this EP is an indicator, what comes next from these dudes will merit anticipation.

By Ethan Covey

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