Beach Fossils have turned a corner. The Brooklyn-based trio’s new album, “Somersault,” is decidedly less post-punk and decidedly more pre-punk. It offers a fragmentary approach that culminates in a cohesive collection of mellow gems.
Engineered in part by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, the ‘60s/’70s pop-rock impact can be felt. But “Somersault” isn’t a Lemon Twigs retro exercise, it’s, as Dustin Payseur suggested to me over the phone last week, a Frankenstein monster.
The band wrote and recorded the album over the course of four years in homes and studios from upstate New York to New York City to Los Angeles.
“We don’t really work in actual studios,” Payseur said. “It’s all home-made.”
The patchwork, experimental feel of the album gives it the direction of a late Beatles record, which makes sense considering the band re-recorded the entire album onto tape.
Unlike Payseur, Rado is “a full analog guy, he’s all about analog gear and tape machines -- all about throwing things down in one or two takes and committing to it.”
“I work really differently. I make one thing and mess with it and loop stuff,” Payseur said.
Given these differing approaches, the album is all over the place in some ways, but it makes sense, spinning you upside down and then landing you back on your feet.
Instead of releasing “Somersault” on Captured Tracks like the band did with previous albums, Payseur decided to start his own label (Bayonet Records) with his wife.
According to Payseur, “I think I was always free to do what I wanted [with Captured Tracks], but there was always a pressure of a timeline that would hold me back. If I was held for a time crunch, this record wouldn’t be the same. With my own label, I don’t have that deadline.”
The downside of having an absence of limitations is that one tends to go hog-wild. So, once the album was done, Beach Fossils had to “pull everything apart” in order to figure out how to translate the songs to a live setting.
“The whole point of it was to focus on the record first, but now we’re stuck with all of this gear that we have to haul across the country,” Payseur added.
Things could be a lot worse -- Beach Fossils could be playing only one show at the Casbah on Thursday, July 20. Instead, they’re playing two -- one at 7 p.m. and one at 10 p.m.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. He now plays in the Lulls and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.