Brooklyn’s BEACH FOSSILS self-titled debut album release boasts what are without a doubt the catchiest guitar lines of the year. Not even close. And that’s what Beach Fossils is, really. It all boils down to a bundle of amazing guitar lines; truly some of the catchiest string plucking in forever. Sounding like saltwater and sand with the swagger of a 60s long boarder, this debut release is nothing short of mind blowing. Nearly every song on the album is a single, and you will no doubt have legit relationships with each one. Lead singer Dustin Payseur signs his name on every song, and you hear it in his signature guitar lines. BEACH FOSSILS is the coolest and catchiest of all the hazy 60s-touched bands from the beaches, and their self-titled release sounds more like a greatest hits album than a debut.
The album appropriately begins with Payseur plucking gems off his strings on Sometimes. Payseur sings behind a thin veil of haze, “well I can understand, but I really don’t care to know, and you can take my hand but I don’t care where we got.” This detached attitude stains the compositions throughout the album, covering both the lyrical and musical aspects of the LP. The attitude is materialized in easy breezy guitar and drum lines, and super cool melodies and harmonies that appear on the record.
The second track is Youth and it’s definitely one of the album’s highlights. But really, nearly every song is a standout, even though this one’s got unarguably the album’s best bass line. Here’s one of the many tracks on the LP that showcases an aspect of BEACH FOSSILS that sets them apart from every other pop act today. These guys write melodic verses that are ten times as catchy as the other guys’ chorus. But what’s even more significant, their choruses are completely void of vocals, driven by guitar chorus-lines, and their catchiness is untouchable. These guys are making their case for ownership of the genre and the most important parts of their songs are essentially instrumentals. Amazing.
Just look at the next track Vacation, a crowd favorite at concerts around Brooklyn over the past year. Payseur sings his verse through a grainy haze while guitar lines and two-step drums fuel the song. When the track reaches the chorus, the guitar line comes into focus and Payseur closes his mouth. Only during the song’s close-out do the band members offer some “ah ah” harmonies to fill out the track. By this third song you already realize that these guys are here in large part to show off these guitar lines. Not since RATATAT has a band worked so well relying on its pop-guitar instrumentals to hook people in.
The next track Lazy Day follows suit with vocals-backed verses turning into instrumental only guitar-choruses, and it’s as good here as anywhere else on the album. Then Twelve Roses follows that with one of the more uniquely structured songs, initially following the album’s trend of removing the vocals during the chorus. But here, instead of closing out by repeating the catchy guitar part, as the model for the rest of the album dictates, this track ends with a new kinda vocal oriented outro where Payseur repeats, “And I’ve seen roses 12 feet tall” over and over. It’s a great moment on the record and is the song BEACH FOSSILS’ used to close out many of its shows.
Daydream, the band’s most beloved track, comes next. BEACH FOSSILS shows off what is probably the catchiest guitar line of the year. First the song is driven by one off-the-chain guitar line coupled with Payseur’s best lo-fi melody. But, in line with the rest of the album, the vocals disappear during the chorus, which is once again fashioned out of super catchy guitar lines, this time with two dueling. The initial guitar line remains from the verse, and another chorus-line is layered in, creating one of the most impressive moments of the record. As with Twelve Roses, the song has a vocal outro of sorts with Payseur singing the song title to close it out. Golden Age is another great track on the album with the most dancey of all the drum beats. But every song’s a little 60s beach party in its own right. This track also shows the band’s talent in constructing harmonies.
The record turns a little more dramatic with the two standouts at the end. On The Horse, BEACH FOSSILS show the depth of their capabilities by completely changing the mood of the album while maintaining the danciness and upbeat tempo. And Wide Awake is another of the album standouts, if not its best piece. With non-stop drums and some of the catchiest vocals, the track starts off with a bang. But it’s not until the chorus-line comes in and Payseur layers guitar line upon guitar line that you realize BEACH FOSSILS has created some of the year’s most beautiful, poppy and catchy indie rock, and that they’ve done it without about half the singing of other acts.