Their 2011 release, What a Pleasure has a surf-rock style with a halted approach. Beach Fossils started with the original solo project of James Dustin Payseur but saw numerous line-up changes before finally coming into their own with Jack Doyle Smith, Tommy Gardner, and Tommy Davidson to complete the final product. The band contains this child-like wonder about them and has this profound use of different modifiers on their instruments to create an overarching sound of a dreamy walk on the beach.
As What a Pleasure opens, it brings about a short opening track, “Moments” that while only slightly over a minute, creates the entire tone for the album. The running drum fills and the shining guitar are the centerfolds, then as the vocals start to flood in, it becomes clear that Beach Fossils are going to focus more on a journey rather than just delivering an album. It is only then as the second self-titled track, “What a Pleasure” comes into frame is when the album truly starts. Payseur delivers fantastic work on both the guitar and on the vocal front where he can almost effortlessly deliver the lines, “Thinking thoughts of you and me in my life, I’ve never felt so free. You’re so far away from me.” While paired with the perfect percussion work of Gardner and the simple, but beautiful guitar workings of Davidson, What a Pleasure becomes an instant laid-back and relaxed, Sunday morning style of album.
Moving on, the track “Out in the Way” contains a feature from Virginian, single-man rock band formed by Jack Tatum, Wild Nothing. Also on the same record label as Beach Fossils, Captured Tracks, the two artists have a significantly similar style and approach when having their sound. The biggest progressing part on “Out in the Way” is going to be the constant bass lines from Smith that strike in the background, but keep the action moving at a steady rate. This is also accompanied by Payseur’s wonderful lyrical style where he is almost drained, but still manages to sing, “In the darkness passing through, tell me is it really you? You don’t look the same as when I was dreaming, even though there’s not much time, I can’t get it off my mind.” Then the guitars and instrumentals begin to fade into the next dream-scape.
What a Pleasure is a strong release, but most of the tracks feel ultimately similar here and need more of a defining spark to really push The Beach Fossils to the next level. They show progress in each release and prove that the spark is turning into a fire, but on What a Pleasure, it isn’t sudden enough. Enjoyable, but not immensely powerful enough to be a full stand-alone release; Beach Fossils show potential to become a powerhouse in music, but need more time to refine the process.