Review: ‘Clash the Truth’ is only a slight step forward

Ryan Morris

Editor’s Note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

“Clash the Truth,” the second full-length album from dream-pop band Beach Fossils, is not quite up to par.

Indie dream-pop band Beach Fossils’ 2010 debut was at the forefront of a bastion of albums featuring hazy guitar lines and smeared, apathetic vocals.

The Brooklyn-based label Captured Tracks is home to Beach Fossils, as well as many of its peers, such as Wild Nothing and DIIV.

The Captured Tracks bands and higher profile act Real Estate have mined this thin, heavily nostalgic sound for a number of releases, ranging from the emotional complexity of Real Estate’s “Days” to the alluring opaqueness of DIIV’s debut.

However, while Beach Fossils are in some ways the originators of this sound, their music has seemed hollow and boring.

Their “What a Pleasure EP” and especially 2010’s “Beach Fossils” sound leached of genuine feeling, too in thrall with brittle, nostalgic atmospherics.

“Clash the Truth,” the band’s newest album and first after many of their contemporaries evolved far past the scene’s origins, is something of a step forward, but only slightly.

The main problem with Beach Fossils’ output is its soporific lack of energy. The band’s interlocking guitar lines and insistent drum patterns often sound inhumanly rigid.

“Clash the Truth” breaks this mold to some extent, taking cues especially from DIIV’s beautiful, propulsive debut.

The songs here are more driven by bass than in the past, taking cues from post-punk like Joy Division but with a more upbeat mood lifted from 1990’s shoegaze.

The space between the thin guitar lines has also been filled out with thicker ambience and fuller-sounding guitar delays.

Lead singer Dustin Payseur’s vocals are also pushed to the forefront here and out of the mumbling fog of the band’s former releases.

Still, being able to hear Payseur only seems to complicate where the band is coming from.

The lyrical concerns here are with tiredness and recycled emotion; fine subject matter, but not when your songs perpetuate those very feelings of apathy and retro-fetishism.

It’s a confusing listen. In one sense, the detached, hollow emoting fits with the music’s apparent themes, but that doesn’t mean that the actual songs make an emotional impact.

“Clash the Truth” is certainly the strongest release from Beach Fossils thus far. The production pulses with much more energy, and songs like the acoustic dirge “Sleep Apnea” and melodic centerpiece “Burn You Down” are exceptional dream-pop tunes.

Overall, though, Beach Fossils have kicked up the energy but left some of their genuine engagement with the material by the wayside.

Rating: Two out of four stars.

Story: COLIN MOORE, A&E Reporter