It was an exceptional afternoon in the golden state: a smiling sun, an easy breeze, and a block to ourselves – the kind of weekend scene where weekday cares evaporate into thin, sunscreen misted air. We stormed the beach in a neon pack like some cast from the teen sitcoms of our childhood. Volleyball courts were primed, coolers stocked, teams evened, and headaches managed. From a speaker dock, my phone’s latest gain, the aptly named Beach Fossils, was called upon and instantly accepted. Nothing may have physically changed from that point on, but it felt like our crew had jumped out of a convertible to land three or four decades back, at some rad hula-hoopla.
Beach Fossil’s self titled LP opens by way of invitation: a lone guitar jingle flirting with a tambourine drum kick. It’s a swing that recalls those retro good time movies where circles of bikini babes do ‘The Swim’. That connection is pretty direct, and yet not at all forced. Throughout this on-or-off the sand album, there’s a comfortable contrast between hi-rise riff and lo-fi vocal.
That surf bash panting you might expect is given extra depth and some balanced breathers (which is nice when half your crew is napping on the sidelines). After the peppy “Vacation”, we get a “Lazy Day”. Once we charge the “Golden Age”, we look back through a “Window View”. “Wide Awake” gets restless with shades of new wave, then leads us to a serene “Gathering” at low tide. The man behind these drifts is Dustin Payseur, who plays a better lovesick slacker than a party host. He’s flat when his surrounding world is so round. It works:
Well I can hardly stand
But I really don’t care to know
And you can take my hand
But I don’t care where we go
Surely none of us noticed those first drowsy lines from the radio, or any others for that matter, and maybe that’s why the feel of this one fit so well. It’s all drone when you’re having fun right? What’s cool is further listens bring new dynamic to these songs: an undertone of real in reverbia. And (unlike food) when it’s real, it tends to have a longer shelf life. So, what we have here is a multipurpose summer record, the best kind.
Photo by Victoria Masters