Best Coast-The Only Place
Grade: 6.90 (D+)
With 2010's "Crazy For You", Best Coast put a stamp on the California slacker scene. Their simple formula of sun drenched pop melodies and lead singer Bethany Consentino's lyrics of love, heartbreak, surf, weed and just having fun wasn't groundbreaking. I'm not even sure if it was immediately catchy. It took me the whole summer of 2010 to enjoy. I originally gave it a C+ because it felt juvenile, the production felt half-baked and even pointless at time. It was an album that just wasn't for me. It didn't talk to me at first. I'm not a young twenty some stoner from Orange County. But those fuzzy guitar melodies and generous amounts of reverberation on the vocals were too good to deny. I wanted to go to a beach somewhere...anywhere and just lay listening to it in it's So-Cal glory.
Best Coast's sophomore album "The Only Place" takes a different approach. It replaces the reverberation and fuzzy guitars with jangle. In the more upbeat songs, it helps them shine in a different hue. I thought about early 90's mainstays in jangle like the Lemonheads the first few listens. Even Juliana Hatfield popped into mind. The one-two openers of "The Only Place and "Why I Cry" work just fine with the new jangle pop approach. "The Only Place" has enough hooks and a knockout melody that would fit on "Crazy For You". The attention to the detail works well with producer John Brion tweaking the most out of a simple arrangement as possible. Those looking for a "Crazy For You" part 2 may find "The Only Place" disappointing at first with the new direction. But they should still feel Consentino's sentiments on the title song painting California as the place to be. "We've got the ocean, got the babes/Got the sun, we've got the waves/This is the only place for me" may as well be a promotion for a California vacation commercial.The self titled opener truly is the most delightful moment on "The Only Place". But the formula works only in a couple places. The rest fails to satisfy.
I used to believe in you and me, but now I believe in nothin'...ummm...) And why are there strings showing up on the last song "Up All Night?" The sound and spirit I enjoyed on their first LP have disappeared. Bummer.
You can't fault a band for going out on a limb and trying something new. Best Coast has gone out and done that the second time around. What they failed to realize was that the simple songs they effortlessly created on their debut sounded surreal hidden behind a morning fog of "Good Vibes". Now that the haze is gone, we see the blemishes in the lyrics and simplistic approach. Except for that great title track. I wonder if we'll be hearing it on Urban Outfitters commercials during the summer?
JHO Picks: The Only Place, Why I Cry, Better Girl