The transcendental draw of California—casually basking in the glow of the sun, riding with your wayfarers on, and chugging cheap beer at a beach bonfire—is flaunted by Best Coast’s sophomore effort, The Only Place (Mexican Summer). “We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair,” songwriter/front woman/Urban Outfitters designer Bethany Cosentino sings on the album’s title track and first single.
“The Only Place” alone gives nostalgic fans an updated femme Beach Boys California anthem—like if the voice of Paramore’s Hayley Williams channeled 50’s girl group surf pop and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours to create a fuzz-rock Spectorian Wall of Sound, while simultaneously flipping off Katy Perry.
The real strength in the album lies in its simplicity. Cosentino writes the verses and multi-instrumentalist and multi-band member Bobb Bruno (Bruno played with both Best Coast as well as with a side band project at 2012’s SXSW) writes the music.
Cosentino also dives much deeper into the darkness than on 2010’s Crazy For You—pill-popping, day-drinking and existential doom make recurring appearances, and juxtapose ironically against the album’s sunny timbre. “Why I Cry”, for example, laments embittered and hopeless loss to a waltz time; its moderate tempo is a flimsy shield for her impending perdition into loneliness. No mention of Cosentino’s cat, Snacks, this time around.
The album, however, is by no means a depressing listen—most tracks on the terse 35 minute album are cheery, ebullient, beach day numbers. Some credit here goes to the album’s producer, Jon Brion, who has produced albums by the likes of Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, Spoon, and of Montreal. Despite their short length—only one track, the ballad “Up All Night”, is over 4 minutes long—the album is sublime production: rich and dramatic, but eloquent. Ask yourself, why would you sit through a potholed, watered-down, hour-long album when you can listen to pure concentrated California goodness? Just take it from Cosentino: “We always have fun.”
Oh yeah, and DOWNLOAD A FREE SONG here.