Clash The Truth
[Captured Tracks, 2013]
Jack McGrew, February 26, 2013
Listen: “Generational Synthetic”
I am going to warn you upfront: this one might be hard to finish.
‘The summer of 2010’ is a phrase that feels like it doesn’t quite deserve quotes. It was less than three years ago, but it’s fair to say a number of the artists that came out of the scene in that window had an effect on the music scene. It was the beginning of the reemergence of groups that can best be described by any mix and match of the following terms: dream, chill, lo-fi, pop, new-new wave, shoegaze, etc. It was a throwback to the mid ’90s and Dinosaur Jr., and it was weirdly enough a very important moment for the indie music scene. Of all the groups that were birthed of this time, perhaps none is a better synecdoche than Beach Fossils.
While not necessarily the strongest musically of the time, the band’s self-titled debut was a summation of the lo-fi and chillwave soundings that dominated that summer. While tracks like “Youth” and “Daydream,” sounded exactly like you guess they would, they still came across as effective pieces of dream pop. The whole album served as a constant reminder that This Is Now and We Are It and Everything Was Important, but in the best way possible. Unfortunately, the group’s newest album, Clash The Truth, fails to encapsulate this feeling again.
The biggest issue with the newest effort from the group is its failure to differentiate itself from the past. The album meanders, relying on many of the tricks that made the first album such a pleasantry. There is little growth in terms of songwriting or guitar work and tracks like “Careless” literally sound like outtakes for the first album.
While this is, by itself, not necessarily a deathblow to the validity of Beach Fossils and their music, it’s necessary to say the peers they came up with have made it their entire mantra to not repeat their freshmen albums to the point where Beach Fossils rehashing sticks out like a sore thumb.
Beach Fossils themselves almost feel like they’re stuck in 2010. While peers like Real Estate, Wild Nothing, Japandroids, Cloud Nothings, and even Beach House have expanded their sound with their sophomore albums, Clash The Truth plays very much the same. The guitar sounds recall the eponymous debut in the worst possible ways. It’s not a bad album, it’s just exceedingly forgettable.
It’s also important to mention that in the interim between the group’s two records, they lost their guitarist Zachary Cole Smith who departed in order to dedicate time to his side project DIIV. This does nothing to help Beach Fossils case, as DIIV has accomplished fleshing out a full enough tone to stand out from itself. There’s nothing wrong with having one core sound as long as it doesn’t play as a one trick pony. Clash The Truth does not effectively toe this line.
With that being said, its not a completely useless album. There are some tracks, that while not really standing out, nicely accomplish what they set out to do. “Generational Synthetic” is a nice chunk of dream pop that belongs in the back of some Tumblr video of vintage surfing and Urban Outfitters models. It’s the kind of tune you enjoy as it goes down with no real intention of ever listening to again.
Which brings us back to the overall point of the album: it’s aggressively bland and unremarkable. With so many artists in the genre fleshing out their sound in a way that seems important and memorable, Clash The Truth is boring. It’s the type of album that isn’t offensively bad, but won’t make its way onto any end-of-the-year lists. In fact, as I type my last sentences as my final listen-through ends, I find myself already losing a grip on what these songs even sounded like. In the end, Beach Fossils’s Clash The Truth failed to provide anything that left a truly lasting impression; there was no real substance to the album.
Now what were we talking about again?