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REVIEW: Best Coast – Crazy For You (Wichita/Mexican Summer)

Image courtesy of Amazon.co.uk.

Such is their ubiquitous presence online, it is difficult to say anything new about Best Coast which hasn’t been repeated a thousand of times before. “It seems like the whole internet is talking about the Best Coast album” tweeted their record company Wichita Records last month. I, my Spotisfaction friends, shall try to avoid talking about their hilarious twitter feed, or famous boyfriends or music blog hysteria surrounding this album and the current wave of ‘low-fi’ bands from America (er, well, starting from now). Let’s just concentrate on one thing, Crazy For You, the debut album by Best Coast, the solo project of Bethany Consentino from California accompanied by Bobb Bruno on bass and Ali Koehler on drums.

Far from reinventing the wheel, or doing anything which would typically generate the amount of press attention as they have, Crazy For You finds it’s virtue by sticking with traditional low-fi philosophy of keeping things simple. The album is a meeting point between slacker culture of the 90s and minimal production (it was recorded in just two weeks). The album is full of nostalgia, sing-a-long melodies and throw-away lyrics about life, love and summer and it is this that makes the album such an enjoyable listen. Opening single ‘Boyfriend’ wouldn’t have seemed out of place on alt.rock radio playlists circa 1994. Grungy guitars playing a 3 chord structured verses and that rare beast nowadays, a guitar solo! But as soon as second track ‘Crazy For You’ comes along, it becomes apparent that there is another era which Best Coast are paying homage. The track is a concoction of the Shangri-La’s aptitude of all things sinister and the Beach Boys ‘Surfin’ USA’. You can imagine Bethany cruising down the Californian coast with her boyfriend, basking in the sunshine as she is singing to him “I would kill you but then I’d miss you”.

Things really start in kick in with the thundering ‘Goodbye’. The guitars come in like a tidal wave of sludge and melodrama and the drums keep a tribal element to the proceedings. But it’s Bethany’s moody and teenage angst-ridden lyrics that seal the affection and empathy of fans and critics alike. It often feels like reading someone else’s diary or your own such is the universality of the themes, “I lost my job, I miss my mum, I wish my cat could talk, every time you leave this house, everything falls apart”. ‘Summer Mood’ and ‘I Want To’ continue along this track and show off Bethany’s smooth, crisp vocals. It’s a credit to her voice that her lyrics, which at times are very simple, come off as well as they do.

‘Honey’ reveals a the darker side of Best Coast. The lyrics sound sweet and cutesy “I couldn’t tell you just how much I loved you, but now that your mine I’ll tell you all the time” but Bethany’s ominous tone indicates something a bit darker, more false imprisonment than willing partner. By the end the vocal refrain repeats into a hypnotic swirl with the echoes of the fuzzy guitars and repetitive drum pattern, it’s disorientating and menacing.

In times of economic depression, war and looming environmental disaster, Best Coast are sending out vibes of love, happiness and summer fun. Which, in other words translates to; ‘everybody needs to chill the fuck out’. There is no pretence listening to Best Coast. You can either appreciate the escapism of lyrics, smoking weed and missing her cat, and indulge and revel in the nostalgia and familiarity of the music. Or you can be a musical Nazi and deride it for its simplicity and juvenility or engage in the tedious debate around ‘low-fi’ ‘garage/surf-pop’ labels that circle Best Coast. But none of this matters. It is their flaws that make this record so perfect. In a sense, it’s a big fuck you to the shift in the criteria that music is now judged against; high concepts, emotional depth and musical innovation or complexity (not that these things aren’t desirable as well) to write an outstanding record. Best Coast have written one of the albums of the year. Let’s celebrate by sparking up a joint, watch cat videos on Youtube and pass out.

9/10

Woody Whyte

By Woody Whyte

I am an escapee from deepest Dorset, now residing in sunny Brighton where I am currently studying Humanities at Brighton University. In between surfing the waves of hedonism of seaside society and dodging serious academic pursuits, I like to listen to music. I like to give my opinion on music, but even more so, I like to pretend that I know what I'm talking about. Thus, you find me here. Spotisfaction contributor, at your service.

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