In 2010, the California duo, Best Coast busted onto the scene with Crazy for You; singing blissful pop tunes about relationships and weed. Bethany Consentino and her partner-in-crime Bobb Bruno struck a lo-fi chord with music fans and critics alike, becoming darlings within the festival circuit and on summer music playlists. Their sophomore effort, The Only Place, is a more mature Best Coast with a potential for more mainstream appeal.
The album opens with “The Only Place” -an almost folky loveletter to California. Creating the perfect image of Cali, Consention beckons the question, “Why would you live anywhere else?” accompanied by an all-over happy, sonic feeling.
On this record, Best Coast excels at the happy -whether it’s real or not. Tracks like “Why I Cry” and “My Life” are relatively sad, but the band knows well that a deep, downer-ballad isn’t their style. The closest track produced to a ballad is the beautiful, final taste of the record, “Up All Night.” A track that should be played whether it’s the end of the night, summer, or a relationship. Then, there are sheer crowd-pleaser tracks like, “Better Girl” and “Let’s Go Home.” Consentino seems to pride herself on writing narratives about heart and homesickness which create a dramatic underlay, presented with shiny pop sensibilities.
While there record seems more like a continuation than a creative leap, there is a sense of self-awareness. The record is a reflection of the band’s current state, which appears to be solid, honest, with a firm grip on creative freedoms. The newfound maturity comes in the form of the songs, “Last Year” “No One Like You” “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To?” and “Dreaming My Life Away.” Each song is a standout in itself, with a bit of a soda-shop ’50s doowop quality, while the latter feels a bit like nondescript MGMT. Sonically, they’re most unlike what is associated with Best Coast. The sounds are bold and seemed more round and complete.
Each track is much more polished than its predecessors on Crazy for You. Yet the band remains playful and youthful without having the be so serious, as if the stigma of the “sophomore slump” never existed. Yet, The Only Place isn’t perfect, not that it was expected to be. Best Coast isn’t the band one listens to for its deep emotion or philosophies on a greater power -its moreorless a relatable, feel-good jam band. Yet, while the album backtracks when Consentino whines about not conforming.
To take Best Coast at face-value is to really appreciate the purity of what Consentino and Bruno have built together. There’s no doubt these tracks will be just as successful, if not more, than what was released from the band’s debut. However, I always like to see a band’s progression and I’m still waiting for that from Best Coast.
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