Best Coast - Fade Away - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Best Coast - Fade Away

by Alexis Somerville Rating:7.5 Release Date:2013-10-21

Two albums into their career, surf-pop revivalists Best Coast are undoubtedly good at what they do. A must-play band at any barbeque or beach party, the title track on their last record, The Only Place, was voted one of the the best summer songs of all time by Rolling Stone. They're planning to release their third full-length album in spring, but in the meantime there is a glimpse of what's to come in the form of this seven-track EP.

The duo's previous output consists mostly of garage rock, alt-country and surf-pop. Fade Away doesn't abandon any of these styles, though they've honed their sound (and thrown in a bit of 80s power-pop for good measure). The EP kicks off with 'This Lonely Morning', all hazy guitars and singer/songwriter Bethany Cosentino on top energetic form in contrast with the heartbroken lyrics.

'I Wanna Know' is one of the standout tracks and shows the band in full 60s girl group mode. It's the kind of thing Phil Spector would have encouraged, with its "Baby, goodbye" refrain, rhythmic surf guitar and tales of romance in the sand. The next track, 'Who Have I Become', is relaxed Californian pop-punk complete with irresistible riffs and vocal melodies. It should really be on the soundtrack to an 80s movie about teenage rollerskaters and love gone wrong.

Lyrics are not always one of Best Coast's strong points; note the nursery rhyme simplicity in 'Fear of My Identity': "The nights are getting longer/ The pain is getting stronger… The fear of my identity/ Standing right in front of me/ I want to run but I can't see/ I want it to be you but I know it's me". Moments like this can be jarring, and many of Cosentino's lyrics are clearly chosen for reasons of rhyme rather than meaning, but she pulls it off most of the time because the apparent simplicity of the songs adds to their charm.

The title track is a pretty piece of retro heartbreak, combining lackadaisical 60s pop with a touch of 'Cruel Summer'-era Bananarama. 'Baby I'm Crying' is a highlight, adding to the slower, more downbeat vibe with a country influence and vocals full of sweet regret. Even at
their most melancholy, there is something intrinsically positive about Best Coast. That pesky sunshine gets everywhere, and it's the crux of their appeal.

The EP ends on a powerful high with 'I Don't Know How'. There are echoes of Roxette as Cosentino sings: "I've been in trouble/ I've been let down/But please tell me now/ You're sticking around". Then the drums kick in, the chorus speeds up and suddenly it's an energetic pop-punk track. This could be on that same 80s rollerskating soundtrack, over a heartbreak montage just before everything gets resolved.

There may be plenty of bands involved in the garage rock revival, but Best Coast are definitely holding their own. Fade Away is not breaking any major new ground for the band but it shows Cosentino developing nicely as a songwriter and allays fears of any crazy new directions before the full-length appears. Anyway, not all of us live in California and a bit of aural sunshine won't go amiss as the
winter months roll in.

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