Album Review: Beach Fossil’s What a Pleasure – EP

The intro off Beach Fossil’s new EP What a Pleasure is wistful, like it is trying to retrieve or remember another song or time. The first full track, for which the EP is named, wakes up a bit with a more upbeat tempo and slightly louder guitars, giving of a happy ‘beach’ sound reminiscent of bands like Girls or Wild Nothing (a.k.a Jack Tatum, who appears on this album).

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Many of the songs thematically and sonically bleed into one another, but there are memorable moments on this album. “Fall Right In” was a most excellently composed track. The drums kick in more. The bass and guitar riffs go in entirely different directions, as opposed to in many of the other songs where the two are often running parallel and unhindered by the drums. The pieces culminate and repeat at the end and fade out quickly, like the sweet, lingering love and life this EP seems to be about:” I’ve been reminded how it feels to be again… / I’ll do it again / I’ll fall right in / I’ll do it again / I’ll fall right in…”

This song subtly but fruitfully cross pollinates genres; the beginning of this track appears to exhibit many other influences like late 70s R&B or even Mod and the song – and the entire EP actually – is soaked to the bone in New Wave. Many riffs throughout the EP are quite simple and the drums don’t often stray from meters and tempos common in New Wave. The vocals have a blurry quality, with a sort of Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House -meets Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal-meets The Cure thing going on. The vocals are often similarly as loud as the guitars and intersecting melodies never truly dominate one other.

Some parts like the strummed guitar of the fourth track “Out in the Way” come in cleanly and distinctly. The bass and synth keyboards become bigger protagonists in this song. Track five, “Face It” uses similar notes as track four, but seems to scramble or play them in reverse. At this point the EP begins to level off a bit – perhaps a sign of future album cohesiveness or a need for more consolidated songs; I can’t tell. “Distance” in all its happy hippie-ness does serve as a nice interlude to the last two songs. “Cayler” seems reminiscent of earlier Interpol or maybe even The Strokes, with less distortion, and the final and longest track “Adversity” seems to most strongly echo “Face It” as well as lead right back to the beginning of the EP.

Though the songs include catchy riffs and generally uncomplex lyrics, Beach Fossil seems wholly proficient of pushing a song along, revisiting earlier parts of the song throughout a song and many times making them rather new. There are almost no instances of normal chorus-verse progression,  reminiscent of composition styles in Beach Fossil’s self-titled debut album.

What a Pleasure, being an EP is by nature an incomplete product. Actually, at eight songs, it’s rather long for an EP; Radiohead’s most recent album was released at only eight songs and their previous one was only nine. Some albums are best when kept short and sweet album; most of the songs were well-composed or in need of just slight individualization in arrangement to refine a great multifaceted effort.