Beach Fossils’ Somersault: Highlight of Layered Arrangements

Photo: Ash Pales

You could tell a Beach Fossils’ staple sound: complimented riff-based guitar sounds or put it simply, two harmonic guitar melodies. Their first and second album contains many fast-paced songs which sometimes doesn’t really leave a mark on me. On “Somersault”, they created a more distinct and bold tone which for me, highlight these points out:

1. Songwriting
Their songs might be sound almost the same but this album is their “best of”. There are so many memorable riffs and because of that, you may guess the song only by listening to the drums. “This Year” has a great opener, along with “Sugar” and “Down the Line” (this one resembles their first album). Moreover, a song like “Saint Ivy” which has a surprising outro guitar riff and soothing chorus on “May 1st” indicates Beach Fossils were more collaborative in songwriting.

“When we sit down to write a song usually, I just like to start on bass because I feel like that’s a good foundation for the song in general. It’s just a really good backbone. We would come up with, like, a riff or something that works and then you know one of us would be like ‘oh I hear what the guitar could be doing here’” — Dustin Payseur on songwriting.

2. Vocal Harmonies
Yes, they already did this on their previous albums but on Somersault it’s different. The harmonies were added with certain spacey effects and often use a thick-and-thin approach (normal and falsetto singing voice), suitable to the songs on the album. “That’s All for Now” emphasizes this aspect, you can hear the vocal harmonies throughout the song, a new approach since they used to mix guitar and vocal harmonies which sometimes buried the “magic” of vocal harmonies.

3. Broad Instruments
Two songs stand out in this aspect: “Saint Ivy” consists of piano and strings rhythm also a flute lead in the middle and harpsichord were the main part in “Closer Everywhere”. Before this they don’t really explore the sound of other instruments, only focus on making back and forth guitar riffs.

However, the most important one is they know how to evolve their own sound. This time, they may spend a long time taking songs to the best version of it rather than just adding a good melody and play it over and over again. If you listen to their 3-minute songs on “Somersault”, they must be very different than the one on their previous album. This marks Beach Fossils’ maturity in making music, demanding more textured and well-made songs. Also, it’s obvious since this album’s release has the longest gap between Beach Fossils’ albums.

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