Best Coast - The Only Place - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Best Coast - The Only Place

by Al Brown Rating:6 Release Date:2012-05-14


of Best Coast singles? Great songs all, whose brevity and lack of pretensions left space for the listener to implant their own memories and fantasies. And how about those venerable influences (The Ronettes! The Shangri-Las! The Beach Boys!) being used in the way they were intended, not, for once, as the soundtrack to some half-formed pseudo-postmodern ennuiathon.

In the past Bethany Cosentino's lyrics were simple, but at least universal - for every line that seemed facile, there were 10 that just seemed right. It wasn't the lyrics, but the music - those trebly guitar lines and blissed-out harmonies - that rooted Best Coast in California. There was no need to extol the virtues of the Golden State when the listener was already there, thanks to that perfectly judged sound.

The title track of this new album is a lot less subtle: "We've got the ocean/ got the babes/ got the sun/ got the waves," goes the chorus - and you can try not to picture one of

where Lance Armstrong and Arnold Schwarzenegger convince you that your life can and should be like theirs - but I guarantee you will fail. It's a shame because aside from the words it's a sweet tune.

Anyway, Cosentino was never renowned for her lyrical dexterity but she reaches new lows on 'Last Year':"I used to wake up in the morning/ and reach for that bottle or glass/ but I don't do that anymore/ kicked my habits out the front door." In fairness, this is both one of the bluntest and most badly-phrased stretches on the album. But turning to meaning: what do you want, Bethany? A medal? So you're saying you're depressed, but not turning to booze? Well, that's very Californian, darling, but not very rock'n'roll.

It might help to think of this album as a special musical episode of your favourite California teen-drama. The title track is (obviously) the theme song (think of

from The OC), and in songs like 'Why I Cry', 'How They Want Me To Be' and 'A Better Girl' (well, pretty much all of them) Cosentino is sitting on the windowsill of her bedroom in her parents' painted wooden mansion, cocooned in bittersweet loneliness, singing to the moon. She's so literal all the time. It's always "To go back in time/ Make what's wrong feel right" and "Even my own mother asks me a lot of questions/ I tell her I don't wanna talk but she doesn't stop/ Shes just wondering."

Would a spot of obliqueness (a seemingly unimportant detail; a metaphor rather than a bare fact) kill you every now and then, Bethany? As at least two of your fellow Angelinos agree, a metaphor is a glorious

. And how much merit is there in being a modern Judy Garland narrating the emotional journey of the kids from 90210? Don't we have Glee for that? Answer me, Bethany!

But, y'know, on the other hand, it's sorta like, kinda good? For all this bellyaching about the words, the tunes are still disarmingly dreamy: they go down easier than a valley girl after two frozen margaritas (I'm sorry.) So the only question is: Are you, the listener, shallow enough to sit there and just accept this fluff? Maybe stop thinking so hard about everything; grab a Vitamin Water and some medicinal marijuana and we'll lie back and pretend your life is as awesome as Lance's, or Arnie's or, indeed, Best Coast's.

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