Best Coast – The Only Place Best Coast – The Only Place

If deciding what direction to take on her band’s second studio album was in any way problematic for Bethany Cosentino, you certainly wouldn’t know it. Hers is, after all, a genre with a pretty short shelf life. Catchy, hook-filled pop songs about boys and the beach and being slightly mental (probably something to do with the much referenced weed) are all well and good on album number one, but many bands with a similar sound might have wavered under the question of how to make ‘the difficult second album’ not so difficult, or at least how to set it apart from your debut outing. Towards the end of 2011 for example, native Florida band The Drums avoided the question altogether on Portamento, the follow up to their mildly successful debut. It’s still difficult to tell which of those albums is which.

But Cosentino’s transition here is fairly seamless; the answer to the aforementioned problem simple: strip away the fuzz and distortion, turn down the general happiness levels by about a notch and a half, and actually sing. And lo and behold, we have The Only Place – still ridiculously catchy, albeit a bit more polished (borrowing Kanye West producer Jon Brion will do that). This newfound emphasis on clean guitar chords and Cosentino’s bare vocals adds a rather curious, almost country twang to proceedings -but thankfully the songs themselves are filled with so many hooks and easily remembered lyrics that it’s not an issue. “Why would you live anywhere else? We’ve got the ocean, got the babes, got the sun, we’ve got the waves,” she sings on the title track. I’m sold, Beth.

Elsewhere on the lovelorn ‘How They Want Me To Be’, simplicity is the key, “I don’t wanna be how they want me to be” is repeated along to an immensely doo-woppable melody. Again, it’s not reinventing the Best Coast wheel, but it’s just different enough that it works. The lyrics throughout The Only Place are generally a lot more substantial, as even a cursory glance at the track listing can attest to: ‘Why I Cry’, ‘No One Like You’, ‘Do You Love Me Like You Used To’- as compared to ‘Boyfriend’, ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Happy’ from Crazy For You. Cosentino has, to some extent, ditched the manic-depressive girlfriend tag – crying into her vinyl collection while her boyfriend is off gallivanting and doing much more exciting things than crying or listening to vinyl. At least when she does give us lyrics like “I don’t know what day it is, ‘cos I’ve been up all night/I wanna see you” on the wistful ‘Up All Night’ it comes across as slightly more genuine and heartfelt than if it was sandwiched by constant references to weed and empty beds, as was the case on Crazy For You.

It’s difficult to see where the Best Coast ‘sound’ will go from here- but that’s probably what a lot of us thought after album number one. For now, The Only Place will more than suffice.

1.The Only Place
2. Why I Cry
3. Last Year
4. My Life
5. No One Like You
6. How They Want Me To Be
7. Better Girl
8. Do You Love Me Like You Used To
9. Dreaming My Life Away
10. Let’s Go Home
11. Up All Night

Best Coast - The Only Place, reviewed by Lemon on 2012-05-11T06:18:04-07:00 rating 3.7 out of 5

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