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Beach Fossils - The Other Side of Life (Album Review)

  • Written by  Johnno



You have to hand it to bands and musicians who are able to write music, record music, then perform it endlessly to the twilight end of their careers.  Like The Rolling Stones still pumping out 'Satisfaction' every night after 50 years, though their paychecks are a keen motivator. Those initial feelings of excitement for a release can fade, prompting the music makers to fall out of love with what they created and it falls to the wayside of tour setlists. It was made, played, and buried away. Like Radiohead's ‘Creep’. There are certain essences of songs that can be exhumed, brushed off, and Frankensteined with more mature eyes and ears.  That said, Brooklyn's Beach Fossils are re-releasing material from previous albums and singles, back from Farnsworth's Alternate Universe Box.


The lead track from The Other Side Of Life: Piano Ballads, is the re-imagining of 'This Year', from their 2017 album, Somersault. I experienced this piano remix backwards, as I heard it first, then went to the original for reference and comparison. In the original, it feels straight out of early Smiths or Cure catalogues within the instrumentation, and singer Dustin Payseur draws on the soft vocals of Blue Oyster Cult's Buck Dharma.  The 2017 version is your nostalgic, college days summertime tune for picnicking on first dates by park ponds. But now, four years on, you've matured into dumb adulthood and the piano ballad reflects the "becoming" of you, the knowing of your place in this world, seeing the seriousness of it all. Out of Adidas, into Burberry. The 2021 piano ballad summons the analog jazz years off the bat, with soothing piano and double bass with the faintest brushes massaging the snare. Pair this immediately with a steuben of bourbon aged in oak barrels. My deep attraction for lounge-esque music, vibes, and slowed BPM had me into it, until the vocals came in. Dustin's voice is still doubled, wet in reverb as the original, feeling drawn away from the music, losing intimacy. Luckily, his lyrics and slowed melody still fit over the piano, bass and sole snare. Had his vocals been re-recorded on a single track, with less delay or reverb, it would have been roped back into the warm intimacy found within the wee hours of a closing, smokey Chicago jazz club in 1963. The jump from indie rock to lounge is impressive anyways. For fans of the Brooklyn trio, this will be an enjoyable, but familiar departure.
8 / 10

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