Best Coast : The Only Place
The gimmick that attracted listeners to Best Coast – the endless bittersweet love-letters to California – could easily make a fan tire of them. Folks hoping for a reprieve here will be disappointed; the cover features a bear cuddling a map of California, and you can safely judge this CD on appearances. This record is about the West Coast of the US – living there, loving there, loving it.
“Why would you live anywhere else?” songwriter and vocalist Bethany Cosentino asks in the titular opening track The Only Place, a theme which is explored in one way or another across the 14 tracks of this album (three of them unlisted). Cosentino rarely looks beyond the front door for inspiration, unless it’s to her diary; if you’ve heard a Best Coast track before then you know what to expect; a bi-polar barrage of sunny pop and post-teen angst ballads. That’s not to say it’s not worth a listen.
They’ve brought in producer and composer Jon Brion, (Fiona Apple, Kanye West, Elliot Smith), whose deft touch has cleared the cobwebs that marred previous releases. The reverb and muffled production is gone, leaving vocals that are unexpectedly rich and clear, while the interplay between Cosentino’s guitar and Bobb Bruno’s bass are just set off with low key percussion and carefully layered backing tracks.
Yes, this album is more of the same from Best Coast; songs about sunshine, songs about being bored of the sunshine, songs about writing songs about thinking about your feeling, but this time around it’s slightly more accomplished, a little more nuanced, and much more fun. Best Coast have shaken off the shoe-gazy hangover of the past, and while the lazy wave of angst still crashes over you, it holds itself up long enough for your heart to soar on for a track or two.
BY LIAM PIEPER
Best Track: The Only Place
If You Like These, You'll Like This: BEACH BOYS, CAMERA OBSCURA, FLEETWOOD MAC, PHIL SPECTOR (before he got all shooty)
In A Word: Mellow-gold