Review by Roisin Corbett.
Somersault is the third studio album from Brooklyn indie band Beach Fossils. The album is mainly shoegaze indie pop, comprised of a mixture of Dustin Payseur’s trademark blurry-sounding vocals, a smooth bassline and – in a first for the band – a mixture of rather more experimental instruments, such as flutes and saxophones.
Somersault kicks off with ‘This Year’, which is both the opening track and the lead single for this album. As an opener, I feel it works very well. The combination of the upbeat instrumentals with the slightly bleak idea of unfulfilled New Year’s Resolutions presents an interesting contrast, giving the album a strong and relatable start.
The first section of the album is decidedly better than the second half. Up until ‘Rise’, the album’s fifth track, the songs seem to be relatively cohesive and flow together nicely. Even ‘Rise’, a saxophone backed foray into R&B territory featuring Cities Aviv, seems to fit with the overall vibe of the album thus far. However, the album’s sixth track, ‘Sugar’, moves in a different direction to its preceding tracks, and feels rather jarring. The change in tempo and musical style, with its abundance of strings, is a rapid move away from the relaxed guitar of earlier tracks.
Following on from this is ‘Closer Everywhere’, one of the most unique tracks on this album, and one that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Beatles’ White Album. In fact ‘Closer Everywhere’ is almost eerily reminiscent of The Beatles, particularly musically, due to its use of the harpsichord. This is definitely one of the stronger tracks on the album, as it is one of the most uniquely distinguishable.
After this come the tracks ‘Social Jetlag’, ‘Down the Line’ and ‘Be Nothing’. These tracks are not bad, but neither are they particularly special. The album almost seems to be flagging towards the end, as these particular songs are – by and large – just rather inoffensive, mid-tempo endeavours. This is rectified partially by the second half of ‘Be Nothing’, which refreshingly switches things up with a fast tempo burst of electric guitars.
Thankfully, this mood continues into the last track, ‘That’s All For Now’, which is a fitting title for an album closer. However, it must be said that the end of the album is in no way as strong as the start. It is not a bad song, but it doesn’t have the same kind of lead single potential as ‘This Year’, which gives the album a vague sense of being unbalanced.
On the whole, I must say that I preferred the first half of the album to the second. For me, the top three songs are: ‘This Year’, which was a strong choice as both an opener and as a lead single, ‘Tangerine’, which is a fantastic example of a collaboration done right, and ‘May 1st’, which I consider to be the best song on the album. It is happy-sounding, but also a little melancholy, containing the catchiest chorus and most memorable guitar riffs on the album.
For the most part I did enjoy the album. To me, it felt oddly reminiscent of being in New York, which I did find to be a nice touch. However, I think that certain tracks on this album are considerably better than others, and so would probably be more inclined to listen to them individually as opposed to the album as one cohesive whole.