Review : Best Coast - The Only Place
SputnikmusicNo matter how many times you say fun I still can’t have it. The Only Place feels like the greying out of Bethany Cosentino, the same sentiments she’s been pushing just rolling on to the next page, blowing through the streets, always the streets of California, like an endless gust of weed smoke. It is talking to the same people from the same couch as trashy TV rolls quietly and insignificantly in the background, thinking about fixing the same problems but clinging to them like little nuggets of meaning, pining over the same guy and being too lazy to do anything about it. We’re still supposed to take it to the beach and get high to it and take pictures of our cat to go on a clip reel with it. We’re right where we left off: “when I’m with you,” when we’re together, “I have fun.”
Okay. Either this record is boring, or I am. Don’t tell me. The way Crazy For You ended epitomized that record, because it held up a mirror to its mad dependence. All the weed was taken out of the skull-fucking boredom of waiting for your prospective boyfriend to not come ‘round; going half out of your mind and talking to your pet was a replacement act and saying the same thing over and over and over again was to calm the thoughts that consumed. The distractions only lasted minutes. Minutes? Perfect! Write a pop song. “When I’m With You” was a fitting conclusion of all these little anxieties, because what is an album about ‘weed and my cat and being lazy a lot’ without the fun you could be having? I guess it’s nothing. The Only Place is kind of nothing....full text
Altmusic"You've gotta keep me away from what they say about me," sings Bethany Cosentino, in a voice that's growing clearer and more forceful with each passing record, mid-"Better Girl," a tune whose blues are worn on its sleeve. It's a song about the sting of internet slander, which instantly makes it a sister song to Frankie Rose's "Know Me," another 2012 riposte to the comment-thread haters.
It's an interesting comparison to make, because where Rose —a former drummer for garagey acts like Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts— plunged fearlessly into bold new territories on her synthed-out second solo record, Interstellar, Cosentino plays things more conservatively on The Only Place, the longplaying follow-up to Best Coast's breakout 2010 LP, Crazy for You. The second time around feels much like the first, but with youthful exuberance and fuzzy fidelity subbed out for reserved melancholy and smooth production.
Behind the desk is Jon Brion, though there's very few moments here that have those hallmarks —the mellotrons and optigans— of his scored work. "Dreaming My Life Away" is the moment in which Brion's presence is most felt, with impeccably-crisp-sounding drums and tuned percussion and thoughtful orchestral arrangements dotted around a song that'd pass for a Best Coast slow-jam; later, all involved indulge in Phil Spector fantasies on the closing power-ballad "Up All Night." Yet, for the most part, Brion tends towards the background; not imposing his sound on Best Coast, but working to capture Cosentino's increasingly-jangly California-pop songs in the clearest light.
Which sounds great in theory, but clear light isn't the currency of Los Angeles, nor is it the most flattering light for Best Coast. For whatever reason, the audio smog of their lo-fi was a key part of their identity; overdriven fuzz making Cosentino's sing-songy songs feel young, energetic, shaggy. Stripping that away may make things easier to hear —may make them better sounding, in so many ways— but it proves not to be the most flattering light for a band built on confessed simplicity....full text
Bbc“I just want to lose that stoner cat girl label and for people to take me more seriously," said Bethany Cosentino recently. Yes, her band's 2010 debut, Crazy for You, won kudos from music critics, cool kids and even Drew Barrymore, who directed one of its videos. But at the same time, the blogworld got preoccupied with its references to weed and mocked one of Cosentino's less than Joni Mitchell-esque lyrics: "I wish my cat could talk."
Cosentino's also admitted that she tired of hearing the term lo-fi attached to her band's indie-meets-girl-group sound. Consequently, she and bandmate Bobb Bruno have recruited Fiona Apple/Kanye West producer Jon Brion to ensure this follow-up is less ramshackle. Best Coast still sound like Best Coast, but now they're tidier, shinier and looking us right in the eye. The revelation is the vocals. No longer hiding behind harmonies and production fuzz, Cosentino is a strong and confident singer; she attacks No One Like You like a valley girl Patsy Cline.
The album's hat trick of up-tempo cuts are so infectious they recall The Go-Go's, and it's hard not to wish there were a couple more. But most of The Only Place is mid-tempo, introspective and very candid. Written while Cosentino was processing her transition from a shopgirl to indie pin-up, these songs are filled with inertia, confusion, frustration and homesickness. Sample couplet: "I'm always crying on the phone / Because I know that I'll end up alone."
But despite this self-involved subject matter, and Cosentino's strict adherence to the June/moon/spoon school of songwriting, The Only Place never irritates. Thanks to the sweetness of its melodies, the sheer ear candy of its Cali-pop jangle, and the yearning in those vocals, it's less depressing, more wistful – like watching the clouds as the sun fades....full text
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