Review: Best Coast – “The Only Place” (2012)

Best Coast
Release: 5/2012
Label: Mexican Summer

Comments: Best Coast has been on the KLYAM radar for a couple of years now. Time flies, but it doesn’t seem like 2010 was all that long ago. That Art Fag 7″ was packed to its three song core in terms of really distorted sounding pop. Good stuff. Crazy For You was pretty impressive; it neatly worked around its cliche lyrics and repetitive arrangements. So even though a lot of it sounded the same, a lot managed to sound different. With the The Only Place, things start off on a weird note. The same titled debut single is quite catchy, although it is a bit more of a showcase of the new producer. It never manages to be boring. “Why I Cry” isn’t too far off from the previous track musically with its relatively ‘big’ chorus and right-back-at-ya amount of hooks. “Last Year” tells us what the Vivian Girls did four years prior: “I believe in nothing”. On production display here is what producer Jon Brion might have had in mind for Bobb Bruno, which is to offer assaults of lead guitar that capture the listeners attention. “My Life” has its own fair share of nooks and crannies, like a violin (or something of that nature) and an acoustic guitar.  “No One Like You” has Bethany’s fine voice on display, that damn acoustic guitar, and the words “crazy” and “girl”. It sounds like an oldie, but goodie — country/early rock and roll style. The song that really caught my attention though is the next one, “How They Want Me To Be”. Mainly because of the lyrics. Who is ‘they’? And I thought this about the media or her mom up until ‘you’ came in. I should’ve known! Anyway, this slow ballad is catchy you have to admit. It’s not something you’d want to listen to over and over, but I mean there’s a shit load of extra vocals, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, and guitars that you just don’t usually get from your usual Best Coast song. “Better Girl” has Bethany recalling the “no fun”  line that was popularized by her dude Wavves. The song is forgettable, but serves as a bridge to the next, “Do You Still Love,” which uses the bass as a propelling force. The ending is cool and must have felt pretty good to create in the studio. “Dreaming My Life Away” is a change of pace on this record (it was re-recorded after initially being released a couple of years ago). Some have noted its jazz — the organ and drumming can be thanked. Not my cup of tea as you might expect, but in context it is interesting. And I guess that’s kind of the thing here. In context, everything seems interesting. It is a lot like Crazy For You, but you’d be bold to say this could exist without Bethany starting to ‘settle down’ or having Brion kicking around. “Let’s Go Home” brings us back to “The Only Place” in many ways, or – if you are a cynic – to that ridiculously annoying Magnetic Zeros song “Home”. To end the album is “Up All Night,” which boils down to a new age 8th grade final dance slow song. No wonder to choose a prominent sounding organ and some “ooohhhs”. To call this a wrap, here’s what I think happened on this LP: Best Coast still wanted to sound like Best Coast, but with more tightness, a little less originality, and bunch more appeal. I don’t really see this as a win or a loss for the band or its fans. From what I’ve read so far, it might be all too easy to shit on or all too easy to call an improvement over Crazy For You. I can’t picture a new wave of young adult girls latching on to this as some kind of ‘indie’ answer to Taylor Swift or acoustic Katy Perry. Not out of the question, though.

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