Best Coast is Bethany Cosentino’s celebration of all things Californian. This LA girl writes “songs about summer and the sun and the ocean and being a lazy creep.” Her debut album Crazy For You is out now and reviewed below. You can hear some of the tracks here:
We’ve all been there – infatuated with the person of our dreams, who is most likely totally unsuitable, wouldn’t notice us if we were the only gal in the room holding a sign saying ‘I LOVE YOU DAMMIT’, and, anyway, probably has a girlfriend of their own already. Unrequited love for boys or girls to whom we are invisible is all part of the crushing inevitability of life, but never more so than when you’re a gawky teenager. Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast understands all of this – she’s a woman who’s been there, smoked that, and bought the band t-shirt, and she’s not afraid to sing about it. Crazy for You is like a trip down memory lane, a gauzy, dreamy quantum leap back to the days of awkward fumblings and bad kisses; hanging out on ‘the green’ at dusk, wrapped in a borrowed hoodie; sneaking drags off forbidden cigarettes (or not) and desperately wishing you were somewhere better, cooler.
The members of Best Coast may have grown up LA, and the shimmering surf and seaside groove of the coast may inform their sun-soaked melliflous vibe, but their songs will be understood by anyone who’s become darkly obsessive about their partner (‘Honey’), fallen in one-way love (‘Boyfriend’) or discovered they can’t live with or without their lover (‘Crazy For You’). Delicious harmonies stolen from one of Spector’s girl groups, guitar lines inspired by Nirvana, the swagger of the Dum Dum Girls and a hint of Liz Phair’s snarl all add up toCrazy For You being one of this year’s best debuts. Like a teenage crush, it’s sweet, simple and utterly delicious. Verdict: 4/5
Best Coast’s debut album Crazy For You is a mix of heart-swelling vocals, 60s girl-band sentiment (‘I wish he was my boyfriend’) and tremolo’d surf guitar layered up until it sounds MBV-esque. In other words, it ticks all the right boxes for me. Underneath the swooning 60s sound and the Beach Boys harmonies, is a homage to Liz Phair and what she might have sounded like if she had stopped at first base. At times the constant yearning can be a bit much, the unrequited desire a bit abject, but it’s the nostalgia of adolescent lust that is appealing in these songs and Beth Cosentino knows it herself as she sings ‘I want to go back to the first time, the first place.’ But just as you’re starting to think a song is one-dimensional – cute but not earth-shattering – Cosentino shifts it up a gear and finishes with a pretty little shimmer, a retake on the song’s melody (as witnessed at the end of songs like When I’m With You and Boyfriend). This is the perfect album to hold hands to, to first kiss to and stare at posters on your bedroom wall to. Verdict: 4/5
So 2009 was the supposed ‘Year of the Female’? Big deal. Forget Florence, Gaga, La Roux and blinkered pigeonholing based solely on someone’s sex; it’s 2010, and all Bethany Cosentino and her bandmates care about is making woozy garage-pop that swings sweeter than the sixties and rocks harder than diamonds.
Like Dum Dum Girls without the curled lips and menacing stares, Best Coast marry dreamy vocals with charmingly scuffed production values, languid west coast harmonies and lyrics that sum up tales of love that’s unrequited (stellar opener ‘Boyfriend’), darkly obsessive (the brilliantly oppressive ‘Honey’) and sweetly enriching (‘Happy’) without being embarrassingly saccharine or insultingly obvious.
True, the trio may be the sort of band that cause red alerts on hipster radars everywhere – approved by Pitchfork, played in Urban Outfitters, endorsed by those who find irony in badly photoshopped artwork (with optional feline – that’s Snacks, by the way). Sure, their influences may be a little too transparent, the album’s tone a little too static at times. ‘Crazy for You’ is not a perfect album: it’s rough-round-the-edges, fundamentally simplistic and faintly derivative. But if it’s not one of the most instantly charming debuts you hear in 2010, I’ll eat my cat. Verdict: 4/5
Ever see those movies where normal-looking girls sit on a Pacific beach at night in a cut-off sweater, smoking skinny but potent joints and somehow managing not to fall into the campfire as she sings and her friends nod along with sleepy, smiling eyes? Best Coast’s album is a bit like that, reminding you of scenes you’ve seen before and always longed to be part of. In a way, we kind of are…if Bethany Cosetino were to cast her voice in the opposite direction, her honeyed tones would not be out of place amongst our own feel-good summer soundsurfers Popical Island.
Crazy For You is girly (‘Boyfriend’), summery (‘Our Deal’), sweet (‘Happy’) and one of the rare gems that allows for flares of sadness (‘I Want To’) without any sense of despondent wallowing. Bethany C’s vocals are remarkably clear and feature very prominently but at less than 30 minutes, it won’t take long to learn the words. Admittedly, it’s all so fast-paced that it could pass as a bit samey if you’re not paying attention but then, who else but the lovers pay attention to the fleeting beauty of a summer romance? Verdict: 4/5
Overall verdict? 16/20
Crazy For You is out now on Wichita