Way back in 2010, we were introduced to the garage-punk loving Dustin Payseur in the form of a pretty much solo LP that immediately garnered fans clamouring for that surf-infused buzz rock sound. Three years later, that sound has been stretched from a small solo project to the product of a four-piece band. Throw an actual producer into the mix, and you have the recipe for a more mature sounding sophomore effort in Clash The Truth. The album is a clear step forward for the band, however this progression only occurs in small steps.
Since we last heard from Beach Fossils, there has been an influx of surf-rock bands bursting onto the scene with guitar driven grooves not far off from what we’ve witnessed from Beach Fossils in their countless live performances. If you’re into that dreamy surf-punk sound, then the album grabs your right from the get go with the opening title track. Even though he now has a full band backing him, this still sounds like a one-man Payseur solo show, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The song provides a great sample of what’s to come, featuring a guitar part that will reappear time and time again on the album.
Generational Synthetic showcases Payseur’s improved song writing abilities in one of the album’s stand out tracks about how artificial his generation has become. The song starts off with a surfer riff on bass that becomes its foundation, over which the Beach Fossils frontman speaks about making his life alone, independent of his “generation apathetic”. Dustin Payseur is not the strongest vocalist of the genre; however his voice fits the feeling of the music perfectly. This is apparent on the quiet acoustic-driven Sleep Apnea. The song is painfully self-reflectional, and wouldn’t sound too out of place on a John Lennon solo record. Sleep Apnea is musically the most different-sounding song of the album, but its downfall lies in its duration. Two minutes is the perfect length for most of the tracks on the album, but the 2:38 of Sleep Apnea does not do the song justice, and I’d love to hear a longer version of the track.
The main drawback of the album is that a lot of the songs seem to blend together too easily with little difference dynamically from one to the other. Clash The Truth also suffers from some rather pointless instrumentals that add absolutely nothing to the album, exemplified by Modern Holiday and Brighter, the latter being a 30-second waste of album space.
Taking Off is the most complete song of the album, and is easily single-worthy. Payseur writes of the confusion that comes with touring, being forced to leave home once again. You can sense the malaise in his voice, wanting to remain in town with the subject of the song, but being forced to “take off” to somewhere new. Why this track was not released as one of the first two singles from the album is surprising.
Featuring the voice of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, In Vertigo showcases softer edged vocals, but once again sounds like many of the other tracks on the album. Caustic Cross is one of the few original sounding numbers other than the album’s first four songs, potentially spawning a whole new genre of Spanish guitar-infused surf rock. Lyrically Caustic Cross is revealing and contains some of Dustin Payseur’s best lines of the album.
Clash The Truth makes fantastic background music, and overall is an enjoyable listen even though it does lack any truly memorable or breathtakingly exiting moments. Beach Fossils have mastered their formula very well, so it’s not aggravating that they repeat it for most of the album, but it does suffer from its repetition throughout the last third of the album. After the first few songs of Clash The Truth you think you’ve discovered an innovative and fun up-and-coming band. However, this feeling is not sustained for the remainder of the tracks, especially when the repetition kicks in. Clash The Truth is a step forward for the band, but there is enough talent here that it leaves the listener wanting more.