Beach Fossils– Bunny
No longer the young indie darlings of the 2010’s, Beach Fossils have stood the test of time and emerged thirteen years after their debut album as stalwarts of the scene, perfecting their dream pop sound. Their newest LP Bunny shows frontman Dustin Payseur honing his craft to a fine point. According to Payseur, Bunny “represents strength through vulnerability.” He notes “when I wrote the first record, there were no choruses; it was instrumental guitar parts in between verses. This is the first record where I’ve consciously thought about writing a chorus.”
There is indeed a lot of growth on this record, not only in sound but in theme, with topics ranging from friendships moving on to becoming a father. Still, there is a lot of searching, or at least reflections on moments of feeling lost. Payseur might be grown up but he isn’t settled down, still hitting up house parties (“Dare Me”) and doing hungover morning bike rides (“Don’t Fade Away”).
Beach Fossils (photo by Christopher Petrus)
Lead track “Sleeping On My Own” gets things started with the jangly guitar and a catchy vocal melody; by the time the song hits the chorus it feels suddenly expansive, like arms spread wide presenting the album. This gives way to the dreamy “Run To The Moon,” which chronicles Payseur’s feelings on the arrival of his daughter, and “having absolute freedom, the fear of losing it, but then tapping into myself in a way that felt more real.” There certainly seems to be a lot of happiness reflected in the pastoral music video as band members Tommy Davidson (guitars), Jack Doyle Smith (bass), and Anton Hochheim (drums) frolic in the fields.
Their second single “Dare Me” is as Payseur says “about conflict, friendship and the intoxication of new love. Willing to let yourself be stupid, vulnerable, pissed off and forgiving” Those emotions are certainly all mixed up into the song: “you said if you’d get yourself together you’d be alright / but nothing feels better than wasting time / I’ll be your / contender / if we can live forever / caught in this / landslide / are we’re gonna be running till the end of our lives?“
Other highlights include “Anything is Anything” (which gave me a sense memory of listening to Blur’s “She’s So High” although that’s maybe just me), “Seconds,” a track that follows their old classic formula of verses interspersed with instrumentals, with gorgeous vocal harmonies, and “Numb,” a bass forward track with swirling guitars that evoke a summer night.
Payseur recorded and produced the album himself, with mixing from Lars Stalfors, and the mix is perfectly attuned to what Beach Fossils fans expect—guitar-focused dream-pop with a solid underpinning, layered over with Payseur’s strong yet lilting voice. Overall Bunny is an album of a band doing what they do best while not resting on their laurels.
Bunny is out now on Bayonet Records (the independent label Payseur co-founded in 2014).