Don't let the fact that the band's from Brooklyn scare you away; the new album from Beach Fossils is not the work of a bunch of hipsters. Somersault, out Friday on Bayonet Records, is as fine a collection of modern chamber pop as one is likely to find in 2017. Fans of The Clientele, or The Left Banke, should eat this one up with a spoon as it's a delicious piece of indie-pop cake.
From the strummy opener "This Year" and on to the delectable "Tangerine" with guest vocalist Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, Somersault seems an immediate classic. Songs like "Saint Ivy" and "Closer Everywhere" blend a sense of Sixties-style song-craft with a handful of strings on each track to offer up music that's uniquely modern, and at once ancient and beautiful. Elsewhere, the spry "May 1st" echoes the type of down-tempo indie favored by other current bands like Ablebody, while the gorgeous "Social Jetlag" imagines something that seems like an Association number as covered by Radiohead, to offer up a very lazy bit of music writing there. Near the end of the record, the pace picks up a bit and there's more than one hint of Beachwood Sparks, or even recent Teenage Fanclub singles, in the almost-jangle-y "That's All For Now", and "Be Nothing" which adds slight nods towards territory charted by Spiritualized or The Verve to that mix of influences.
Writing about the largely sublime Somersault is a tricky affair: if I play up the more languid moments here, I run the risk of making the band seem like a bunch of slack rockers, and if I highlight the expert pop craftsmanship on offer here I take a chance that I'd be seen as labeling this group as a bunch of revivalists intent on trying to recreate Odessey And Oracle. With some small thanks to Jonathan Rado of Foxygen, who engineered part of this one, Beach Fossils -- Dustin Payseur, Jack Doyle Smith, and Tommy Davidson -- have made a fine record here and Somersault positively rings with the sort of nearly-sunny pop that very few acts this side of The Clientele can pull off successfully anymore. This is, clearly, the best Beach Fossils release so far and that's saying quite a bit, isn't it?
[Photo: Even Tetreault]