One of the biggest complaints lobbed at the recent crop of jangle/guitar-pop bands that have risen over the years (and to a certain degree, formulated the Captured Tracks sound) is they all blur together, that what the likes of DIIV or Real Estate create is just a minor variation on the other, with nothing new or creative coming from the bands. Despite how wrong this opinion is, instead of delivering a intense & profanity laden speech at these people, from now on I'm just going to give them a copy of Beach Fossil's Clash the Truth and watch all their criticisms melt away.
The jump between Beach Fossil's debut and what they've accomplished with Clash the Truth is sort of staggering. Much like how label mates Wild Nothing were able to expand the scope of their sound with Nocturne while it still feeling perfectly like a Wild Nothing's release, so to have Beach Fossils. While we got hints of this back when the band released their "Shallow" 7" last year, the effect is much more present in album form. The hazy production has been sharpened immensely, and front man/band mastermind Dustin Payseur's vocals, while still smeared in healthy doses of reverb, are much cleaner and prominent through the record. The guitar playing, along with the rest of the instrumentation, has improved as well, becoming tighter, more confident, allowing the other genres that creep into Clash the Truth (shoegaze, dream pop, folk), to be pulled off just as well as the band's jangle pop.
All this helps to reinforce Beach Fossil's shift from swooning over a nostalgic past to concentrating on the present. While their debut was filled with sentimental reflections on their past and their lost carefree life ("Youth", "Lazy Day", "Golden Age"), Clash the Truth is just the opposite of all that. Opening with the title track that blares with a riff ripped right from the Sex Pistol's "Pretty Vacant", the last half of the song is sprawl seemingly abstract words that are in reality the various emotions that Payseur is trying to manage. "Generational Synthetic" is condemnation of the apathetic & fake world/generation Payseur feels he is a part of, contained within a song with such bounce that it will probably be picked up by the same people as just another indie tune. The revamped version of "Shallow" that appears here is even more urgent than it's predecessor, the volatility and desire for escape much more present in the shoegaze echos and speed that now form its core. Even "Caustic Cross" with its the simple, wonderful bobbing guitar line and math-rock drum beat, contains the sharper message of taking a stand and not throwing out your views when it is convenient.
Not that Clash the Truth is just one long examination of modern life; it also happens to be a nicely loud and bursting indie rock record. With Clash the Truth, Beach Fossils have fully understood the power of the instruments they are using, rather than the almost one-dimensional approach they used on their debut. This fact is clear from the brief instrumental/ambient tracks the band use to break up the album, to the krautrock outro that perfectly closes the album on "Crashed Out". The quiet roar of distorted and echo blasted guitars on "Careless" is as soaring as it is absolutely gorgeous. The miniature, Whirr-like build ups of "Burn You Down" as the drums crash more and more over the track's perfect bass line will bounce around my brain for days. Or the the utter twisted beauty of "In Vertigo", which as the band get as close to shoegaze as they have ever gotten before, pulling of the hybrid sound that emerges perfectly. Clash the Truth is pure, guitar-pop excellence; dream-pop at it's smartest and finest, with Beach Fossils adding so much to a genre that people underwrite. If every jangle pop band can make this evolutionary step, the genre is going to see some classics forming very soon.
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Buy Clash the Truth here, from Captured Tracks