In a surprise release, the Brooklyn-based outfit Beach Fossils have released a jazz-infused version of ‘Down The Line’, the main single from their 2017 album Somersault. Beach Fossils started life as a lo-fi dream-pop project, rising out of the same New York scene as groups like DIIV. The band’s sound has gone through a number of transformations since then, with Somersault seeing them blend swelling string sections and bossa-nova leaning chord progressions with a shoegaze sensibility.
Their most recent release, The Other Side Of Life: Piano Ballad, sees the group’s frontman, Dustin Payseur, reimagining tracks from across Beach Fossils’ catalogue in the style of jazz piano ballads peppered with saxophone, upright bass, and brushed drums. ‘Down The Line’ follows the release of a jazz-inspired rendition of ‘This Year’ (also taken from Somersault) which was released back in September.
Payseur reportedly worked on the jazz arrangements with Tommy Gardner, a graduate of Julliard, New York’s most prestigious performing arts conservatory. Gardner played in Beach Fossils from 2011-2016 before relocating to China. The Other Side Of Life sees him return to the fray, playing the piano, sax, and bass throughout the LP, while Henry Kwapis handles the drums.
Because the album was produced during the lockdown, Beach Fossils were forced to capture all of the vocal and instrumental parts remotely. “As for my vocals, I’m not a jazz singer and I had no intention of altering my style for this record,” Payseur explains in a press release. “The idea was for my vocals to be the common thread between the original versions and these new versions.”
This rendition is a stripped-back, melancholy ballad that showcases Payseur’s meticulous songcraft as well as Gardner’s stunning musical dexterity. As Payseur elaborated in a statement: “I was astounded by the amount of musical talent that he possessed. On tour, whenever we were in a green room with a piano, Gardner would sit down and start improvising Beach Fossils songs in a jazzy style.”
“He would be playing the melodies for the guitars, bass and vocals altogether. It’s not like he rehearsed it, it would be the first time he’d ever attempted to play these songs, and it was always beautiful,” Payseur continued. “For years I had the idea of turning these piano versions of Beach Fossils songs into an album, and in 2020 when touring came to a sudden halt due to Covid, I reached out to Gardner and asked if he wanted to finally make this album.”
Check out the stunning jazz version of ‘Down The Line’ below.