Credit: Andrew Cigna
by Conor Williams Music Obscure Object

Beach Fossils | The Other Side of Life: Piano Ballads

December 13, 2021

The Other Side of Life is a swanky sonic reinvention for Beach Fossils, and a tease what else they have to offer.

Brooklyn indie band Beach Fossils arrived in 2010, joining the sound put out by contemporaries such as Real Estate, Girls, and The Drums, formed just a couple years before. Dustin Payseur’s distant, low-key vocals and the band’s muted, jangling guitars also evoked the aura of earlier groups like Galaxie 500 and Slowdive. But with The Other Side of Life: Piano Ballads, Fossils frontman Payseur has elected to reinterpret the band’s hits through the genre of jazz. 

A longtime creative goal of Payseur’s, the album is a satisfying homage to a style that had certainly informed the architecture, if not the outright resonances of Beach Fossils’ work. Their former drummer Tommy Gardner has provided a beautifully delicate reimagining of the band’s melodies. By removing the guitar-driven lo-fi presentation from the equation, and turning their focus from the fuzzed out vogue of the past decade of indie rock, Beach Fossils has created a record that showcases a more relaxed, earnest sound.

With the addition of Gardner’s piano and saxophone, familiar singles like “This Year” and “Down the Line” have been given a new coat of paint. Short solos introduce new spaces that refresh the buttoned-up tenor of before. Their excellent “What a Pleasure” is reminiscent of a sun shower. This newfound breeziness makes for easy-going listening, the perfect soundtrack for a dinner party or nightcap. Payseur’s vocal stylings remain unchanged — a choice that, in his words, provides the link from this album to their previous work. A chance to hear him singing with more vulnerability would have been nice, but ultimately, this decision doesn’t diminish anything. The Other Side of Life is a swanky sonic reinvention, a taste of what else Beach Fossils has to offer.

Published as part of Album Roundup — November 2021 | Part 1.