While looking through the list of albums released in 2010, one which seemed to find itself criminally ignored until later in the year was the self-titled debut from Brooklyn's Beach Fossils. Combining a love of Cure-recalling melancholic bombast with the subtleties of indiepop when it actually meant what it said on the tin, Beach Fossils looks set to be one of those records passed over at the time yet destined to feature prominently in future 'influenced by...' citations by many an aspiring artist.
It's certainly brought the opulent musings of a certain Dustin Payseur to a wider audience, whilst confirming his status as something of a young romantic in the process. Although not strictly evident on first listen, the majority of Payseur's heavily distorted, low-in-the-mix ditties are simplistic love songs written in the first person. Often quaintly understated, such as on the opening 'Moments', which lasts little over 60 seconds and barely acts as little more than an introductory piece for the rest of the EP while still managing to set the scene for what follows in admirable fashion.
For anyone familiar with the aforementioned long player, What A Pleasure won't come as too much of a surprise - Beach Fossils haven't reinvented the wheel here. What it does do however is highlight Payseur's ability to conjure up a handful of indiscriminately beautiful melodies at the drop of a hat, and across the eight pieces this EP is comprised of nothing disappoints. Compiling six previously unreleased songs with the two tracks that made up last October's extremely limited 'Face It/Distance' seven-inch, What A Pleasure stands aloft as much more than a mere filler between albums one and two.
The fact Payseur holds Bristol's Sarah Records in such high esteem comes to the fore on both the EP's title track and penultimate number 'Calyer'. While the latter shines like a beacon fuelled on the nascent pop of The Field Mice or The Sea Urchins, easily rivalling 'Daydream' and 'Vacation' as Beach Fossils' catchiest moment so far, the latter takes on a more haunting theme not that dissimilar from Another Sunny Day's 'You Should All Be Murdered', yet delivered in a way only Dustin Payseur would know how.
'Fall Right In' is perhaps the most evident example of Payseur's muse, its driving Cure-inspired bassline interspersed with such couplets as "I've never cared so much about anything before" and "I could stay with you 'til the sun comes up" among other less obvious lovelorn odes. The Byrdsian flavour of former b-side 'Distance' and plaintive closer 'Adversity' work well in tandem, suggesting maybe it wasn't all smiles and laughter while Payseur was writing this collection.
The main highlight though would have to be 'Out In The Way', a bashfully dainty duet with Wild Nothing's Jack Tatum that augments the songwriting capabilities of both, conjuring up such fantastically poised lyrical imagery as "In the darkness I see through, tell me is it really you?, you don't look the same as when I was dreaming..." in the process. Each being as proficient in their own right as the other, it still begs the question as to whether a more permanent fusion of the two could be just around the corner.
Nevertheless, whatever the future holds, Beach Fossils are in a good place of their own making at this moment in time, and What A Pleasure aptly describes its contents to a tee.
8Dom Gourlay's Score