It’s officially summer and with the change of the seasons brings the need for great music to blast with the windows down on the way to some carefree summer activity. I have found the first essential album to the summer playlist in Best Coast’s new album The Only Place and part of the reason this album makes the list is its simplicity, which almost makes it seem shallow. I have always enjoyed this indie pop group because of their messy sound and simple style, but for this album, it might be too much of a good thing. Let me explain.
Best Coast consists of duo Beth Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, who supplies the California pop rock of the 1960s sound that has become a signature sound for them. Last year, Best Coast blew up with their nostalgic sound with Crazy for You, an album that featured the song “Our Deal.” The music video featured Kick Ass star Chloe Grace Mortez and was directed by Drew Barrymore. The album was very heavy on the reverb, almost like they were trying to cover up the music, but it was this lo-fi mask that made the album so good. The sloppy production kept the hazy atmosphere that the music created. For this next album, that was simply not the case.
For this album, the team had producer Jon Brion produce their album and the difference really shows. While Consentino’s voice is still very much in the forefront and comes through much more crisp and clear, as well as the music. The only problem now is, there is nothing profound about the music.
Sure, the lead single “The Only Place” is infectiously poppy and catchy, but that’s about it. “”We got the ocean/ Got the babes/ Got the sun/ We got the waves” and while this works during the summer, what happens when summer ends? The whole album sounds like a soundtrack to one of those old beach movies from the ’60s. Great for what it’s made for, but no longevity.
The one stand out track to me is the closing ballad “Up All Night”. The pining love songs that made Crazy for You is channeled here. Yes, the lyrics and the song structure are very simple, but this is one of the only songs on the album that have any sort of real feeling or depth to it. “I don’t know what day it is cause I’ve been up all night / I don’t know what week it is cause I’ve been up all night/ I wanna see you forever” Cosentino does not mince her words when she is lamenting to her lover.
Don’t let the superficial context of this album sway you from giving it a listen. It is a solid pop album with a carefree attitude and simple songs. It does not have any life changing songs or any significant message, but if you’re looking for something light for a sunny day drive or a trip to the beach, this is your album. If you’re looking for something a little more profound, you might want to look elsewhere.