with SHE-DEVILS and ABLEBODY
The long-awaited return of Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils, Somersault showcases a band in bloom. Charting into new musical territory with a refined songwriting style, it’s an album that captures flashes of life in New York grounded in personal experience.
The band’s self-titled 2010 debut established a sound that was both minimal and enveloping. With Somersault, the group’s first release since 2013’s Clash the Truth, Beach Fossils have channeled years of experimentation into expansion and reinvention. Augmented with more complex instrumentation, including string arrangements, piano, harpsichord, flute, and sax, the new songs offer multi-layered pop guided by sharp, poignant, and honest lyrics.
As the band’s first release on Dustin Payseur’s new label Bayonet Records, which he co-owns with wife Kate Garcia—the group made the most of their newfound independence, investing ample time in expanding its range both musically and lyrically. While Payseur handled the bulk of the songwriting duties in the past, Somersault is a true collaboration between the founding member and bandmates, Jack Doyle Smith and Tommy Davidson. The new songs speak to a more fluid, eclectic sound, filled with lush compositions formed by studio experiments and sam-pling of the band’s own recordings.
Orchestral pop gem “Saint Ivy” shines with plucked strings, buoyant basslines and a propulsive, wayward, guitar. “Tangerine,” a driving, tightly wound melody, rushes forward and briefly leaves the ground due to the gossamer guest vocals of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. The effervescent “Rise,” which hinges on the spoken word of Gavin Mays (Cities Aviv) discussing a failed rela-tionship, hangs, like many recent breakups, in a sense of suspension. The cloudy, wistful “Soci-al Jetlag,” bustling with samples of crowded streets, features the type of candid, off-the-cuff lyr-ics that make the entire effort immediately illuminating.
Recorded at multiple studios across New York City, a cabin in upstate New York, and even Los Angeles (including the home studio of Jonathan Rado of Foxygen, who helped engineer part of the album), Somersault turns the newfound chemistry between the trio into a sonic tapestry. Due to the variety of sessions and recording locations, the album was a Frankenstein-like series of reworking and reimagining songs. As the group pieced together different parts in a cycle of creation and cooption, and built out more elaborate songs track by track, the process became more reminiscent of a record created via sampling and arranging than one built by simply grind-ing out riffs. The long-simmering album, filled with breezy music both melancholic and uplifting, sees the band channeling their voices and honing their craft.
Flowing between shimmering compositions and immersive soundscapes, Somersault evokes the laid-back mood of a warm, breezy city night, the air crackling with humidity and excitement. These songs pulse and pull, capturing a blend of promise and heartache. It’s beautiful and lay-ered, a refined, sweeping creation that threads together numerous styles, textures, and themes into a refreshing, singular vision.
“I’ve always believed in the idea that if you visualize or summon something, it will come true,” explains She-Devils vocalist Audrey Ann Boucher.
Alongside her friend and bandmate Kyle Jukka, she has summoned ‘She-Devils’: a channel through which Audrey Ann and Kyle explore the sensory world, actualize aesthetic fantasies and alchemize pieces of history into entirely new sensations.
Through primitive electronic gear, hypnotist vocals, and an “amusement park of sounds”, the duo’s album constructs a fun-house world of beautiful chaos. The music is built from original sonics inspired by everything from Iggy Pop to Madonna to T-Rex to Can, as well as the romantic longing of ‘60s yé-yé.
The pair met four years ago while living at a music rehearsal space in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood of Montreal. “We were like wild animals, kind of fearful and just surviving,” recalls Kyle, “But we had certain obsessions and needed to build something out of them, to transcend our lives and express our visions and inspirations.” In this state, Kyle and Audrey formed a friendship based on a love of the dreamy and the beautiful. “She-Devils is a ship we built to sail us away to a better place,” says Audrey.
The band played gigs for about eight months though they did not record right away. Making music together meant following their own rules and taking things one step at a time. “I never sang before starting She-Devils,” says Audrey. “I have to learn just by doing it, through intuition. I learned vocal warm-ups I found online so I could train the reflexes of my body, since it’s kind of like training my body’s ability to respond to intuition.” Following instinct is a crucial part of She-Devils’ identity.
Striving to make music that feels “as visual as possible,” the band hopes to strap listeners into a rollercoaster ride “with Audrey’s voice as the centrepiece to cling to.” The duo are inspired by the cinema and art of Gregg Araki, Yayoi Kusama, Andy Warhol, John Waters and Quentin Tarantino. They direct their own videos. Audrey creates the artwork that accompanies the music. Her self-taught style evolved by watching hours of Disney movies, The Simpsons and Powerpuff Girls. “Those influences are very present in my drawings and paintings,” she says.
Audrey is also musically self-taught. In fact, she had never even played music before forming She-Devils. “I’ve always seen music from the perspective of an artist or music lover rather than that of a musician,” she explains. “When I sing over a loop, I don’t feel like I’m in control of what I do, or that I am cerebrally engaged with making music, it’s more like my subconscious is completely taking over my mind and it just comes out of my dreams.”
You only have to listen to the album to understand what Audrey’s saying. Dig a little into her lyrics and this entrancing quality becomes even more palpable. “There’s a place where we can go / Right here if you let me take you in / I know that this is for real / I saw the look in your eyes,” she croons on ‘Never Let Me Go,’ over Kyle’s woozy, layered guitars.
Elsewhere on the album, standout tracks include ‘How Do You Feel’ – a swirling fantasia about adolescent love – ‘You Don’t Know’, with its trebly jangle-pop, and ’The World Laughs,’ which hits a high of creepy rock ‘n roll psychedelia.
Kyle and Audrey think they fit together perfectly. “I try to use my ears to travel, and like a traveller I want to feel sonic emotions and hear things I haven’t before, that’s the excitement of it,” says Kyle, “The challenge is to make that into a cohesive work, but Audrey makes it so easy because she has this vibe as a singer that immediately connected with my imagination.” The connection of these two friends—their tensions, harmonies and oppositions—is probably the most crucial part of all. Their debut self-titled album arrives this May.
Ablebody is an LA-based duo comprised of identical twins Christoph and Anton Hochheim (members of Pains Of Being Pure At Heart/Depreciation Guild). They’ve been quietly releasing music under this moniker since 2013, self-releasing an EP and 7″ single, crafting remixes and demoing original material as well as a myriad of covers.
Drawing from the raw grandeur of the 60’s, the melodicism of soft 70s pop and the sophisticated side of romantic 80s synth pop, Ablebody stand suspended between decades; students of the past but far from retro fetishists. Their musical prowess is evident but the songwriting remains tastefully direct at all times, with arrangements that bend and move in surprising ways but tastefully blanket the overarching sentiment of the songs in a way that we rarely hear in this decade.
The duo have recently taken their sound from the bedroom to the studio, working with Cole M. Grief-Neill (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Nite Jewel, Julia Holter, The Samps) and Kenny Gilmore (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti) to craft songs with a more visceral edge than they’ve explored in the past. Daniel Rosenbaum (Pomar) and Jordan Sabolick (Mt. Ossa) have joined the duo to help bring the songs to life and add new dimension to the live dynamic.
Their debut full length record ‘Adult Contemporaries’ will be released by Lolipop Records on October 14, 2016.