Best Coast tops debut with unique hit album ‘The Only Place’
By Julian Danziger, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, May 17, 2012
Best Coast is one of those bands that doesn’t quite fall into a specific genre. It’s a little too poppy to be a full indie gig and a little too garage-rock to be pop. It’s this unique sound, however, that makes the Los Angeles-based Best Coast one of the better alternative bands with a female vocalist out there.
Bethany Cosentino, the 25-year-old singer and frontman of the group, aptly demonstrates the band’s unique genre in its second full album, “The Only Place.” Released this month, the album seems to be a harbinger of the band’s future success with catchy, hit tunes.
Before Best Coast released its first major album “Crazy For You” last July, it was, for the most part, completely unknown. Although Cosentino’s awesomely unique surf pop and indie low-fi sound — note my difficulty in classifying — got picked up by the record label Mexican Summer last year, she was just another West Coast rocker girl with only one or two singles to her name until the band’s debut album.
When “Crazy For You” hit the charts, it found somewhat unexpected success. Americans started fawning over the band, whose laid-back, extremely catchy but too-cool West Coast style makes it an instant classic for anyone open to the greatest California surfer-indie rock around.
Best Coast has followed up its incredible debut album with another hit, which seems to be a little more focused on a mainstream audience. Although it is obvious that Cosentino has ditched a lot of her low-fi rock for catchier hooks, “The Only Place” is a phenomenal album in which Best Coast proves it can transcend its beach pop stereotype and merit serious comparisons to the musical genius of Rilo Kiley or any other Jenny Lewis-type groups.
I fell for the 11-song album after my first listen. Although I was a huge fan of “Crazy For You,” “The Only Place” features a more grown-up Cosentino singing in ballad form rather than surfer jams and is just plain good. Throughout the album she seems to switch back and forth between songs written about her love for California, boredom, relationship issues and life drama in its broadest and best form.
The album opens with the catchy title track “The Only Place,” which was released as a single on March 26. With California-whimsical lyrics and alternatively lovable vocals, the song instantly reminded me of why Best Coast truly rocks. Cosentino opens the track singing, “We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair.” Best Coast represents everything I love about the West Coast, or at least my perception of it. From this first track on, she does not disappoint on the album.
My favorite songs seem to be those that were written and recorded with the same surf pop and low-fi mentality featured throughout her last album. These include “Why I Cry,” “How They Want Me To Be” and “Up All Night.”
“How They Want Me To Be” is a song in which Cosentino dives into a realm that was nowhere to be found on the quick and happy “Crazy For You” — the realm of the ballad. The track, which is definitely my favorite on the album, is a hit, from the lead guitar at the song’s introduction to the slow crooning of Cosentino that later joins the acoustic riffs. Her vocals have the ability to melt hearts in a way few thought her capable of from her first album.
Much of the more mainstream feel of the album can be attributed to producer Jon Brion, who has produced many hit albums for Kanye West and Fiona Apple. Whatever he did for Best Coast with this new and phenomenal album “The Only Place” worked.
Although listeners should be warned not to expect the low-fi surfer whimsicality of “Crazy For You,” Best Coast’s newest album is a great listen that will, without a doubt, get fans hooked on Cosentino’s new sound. “The Only Place” really demonstrates Best Coast’s musical range and is almost a sure bet to be a 2012 summer hit.