Summer is here! After wiping away the tears of seasonal affective disorder and compulsorily playing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, you know it’s time to break open that long yearned for, sun-baked music you’ve been dreaming of during those dreary winter months. Los Angeles-based Best Coast, led by Bethany Cosentino, is a solid place to start. Although their new release, The Only Place, failed to dazzle, the group’s first album remains an unblemished example of blithe summer pop.
Best described as lo-fi surf pop, the band received a lot of attention in 2010 when they released their debut album Crazy For You. The album echoes with 50’s and 60’s aesthetic, evoking imagery of Chevy wagons laden with surfboards and tanned, skinny, long-haired, blonde boys. Cosentino described the sound as “California beach music with elements of the Ramones, 90’s alternative stuff, and early Beatles drumming.”
The group excels at writing simple, straightforward, pop songs with fuzzed out guitars and light lyrics. Cosentino sings about ephemeral topics, mostly boys, boredom, and the summer. There’s plenty of music out there to help you unravel all those complicated emotions inside you, but as Pitchfork put it, when “you’re lonely and bored and sitting there thinking about how you wish your cat could talk… Best Coast is there.”
The group just released a new album, The Only Place, with a less-than-enthusiastic reception. The sloppy garage rock sound of their first effort is wiped away by overzealous producing and a jangly, twangy sound replaces the fuzz guitar. The group’s accentuates their weakest point—lyrics— which can be chalked up to…#whitegirlproblems. Worst of all, the album lacks the contagious, carefree excitement of the first album. Cosentino often sounds tired, or as if she is taking herself too seriously.
The album highlights Cosentino’s voice—the group’s strongest weapon. A mixture of feminine sweetness without fragility, her voice retains a quality that leaves the songs sounding confident but still light. Though The Only Place certainly worth listening to while you’re tanning on the shore and scrolling through your iPod; I would stick with Best Coast’s first record.
Dave Greek is a senior in MSB and contributing writer for our new feature called “Out of Tune”, a series of music reviews. If you’re interested in reviewing a concert or a recently released album, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org