There’s nothing like an album chock-full of beachy surf-pop to welcome summer with salty, sand-covered arms. L.A. duo Best Coast offers such a welcome reception with its sophomore release, The Only Place, which contains plenty of fodder for those lazy, sun-drenched days around the corner.
Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno took the music world by storm with their refreshingly simple, lo-fi debut album, Crazy For You, which was ubiquitously hailed as one of the best records of 2010 and made everyone “Crazy” for Best Coast.
The Only Place adds another degree in surf-rock to the duo’s resume. It features many of the same themes as its debut, those being heartbreak, unrequited love and sunshine. This time around, though, Cosentino and Bruno tone down the super-muffled, garage-rock vibe a notch or two by polishing up the vocals and turning the distortion a hair under 11.
Every song on the record is light, enjoyable and eerily relatable. Most lyrics seem to be taken right out of Cosentino’s diary, such as in “Why I Cry” where Cosentino begs: “Moods they swing, seasons change, is it you or am I to blame?”
While lines discuss confused love and grovel for approval are a dime a dozen, there are also plenty that are simply an ode to summertime, and more specifically, a quite literal bear hug with the state of California.
The title track, “The Only Place,” is essentially a thank-you, and almost a seductive flirtation, with the Golden State. The opening lines are what every Californian thinks is actually true about his entrance to the world, solidifying his holy bond to the shoreline, with “We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair.” The pre-chorus goes on to serve as a shameless advertisement, but Cosentino’s cute, little squawk makes it sound as meaningful, and as cool, as Robert Frost – “Why would you live anywhere else? We’ve got the ocean, got the babes, got the sun, we’ve got the waves. This is the only place for me.”
Other power-tracks are the poppy “Do You Love Me Like You Used To,” the mellower, starkly honest “How They Want Me To Be” and the bonus-track “Mean Girls,” which is quite a literal jab at the title characters of the 2004 chick-flick of the same name.
Best Coast offers an intriguing musical concoction of the beach-themed effervescence of the Go-Gos, the heartache and sentimentality of Rilo Kiley and the bad-assery of Karen O that makes for a pretty awesome, no-nonsense 40 minutes of listening.
The pair is leading the charge of the retro, California-centered, surf-rock movement, followed closely by bands such as Wavves and the Vivian Girls. However, The Only Place solidifies the duo’s top ranking among its indie peers, atop the resurgent surf-rock genre, and as all-powerful lords of the beach.
With enough “ooh-ahhs” and double snare taps to last you until A-Basin re-opens, these Californians have re-created the perfect recipe of sultry, female vocals, simplistic arrangements, heartache and a splash of the Pacific Ocean to spawn a killer record to blast cruising beach-bound with the windows down.