Maybe it’s because I was born in Perth, or have this long-standing love of all manner of West Coast (US) rock – Seals and Crofts, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Beach Boys and their ilk, that there’s something about both of Best Coast’s albums I have, and their more recent EP that makes me feel at ease when listening to it. From the moment that their latest, ‘California Nights’ opens with ‘Feeling Ok’ and it its guitar pings, invoking thoughts about desert, sunlight and the ocean, you know you’re in a good place.
Right off the bat you should know that Best Coast (Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno) aren’t setting the world on fire, or doing anything towards changing it. Beach music, surf music, whatever you want to call it, has been a staple of rock & roll since Frankie Avalon had his original hair. Best Coast take familiar terrain, but instead of it being about having fun, their lyrical content flips the narrative, and lead singer Cosentino imbues it with self-doubt, longing and 20-something angst.
The yearning throughout is palpable, counter-playing the thematic sing-along qualities of the up-tempo melodies with less than up-tempo lyrical accompaniment. Bethany may not be sure of herself, but she’s definitely in touch with the fact that all of this is just a bit much on occasion (“This love will be the death of me…” she sings, in ‘Fading Fast’; ‘What hurts the most is that you’re gone, and it hasn’t even been that long…’ in ‘In My Eyes’).
The album is filled with harmonies and production effects that all-but-literally echo Spector’s Wall of Sound. And that’s great, this is a solid listen, but there is a tendency in the records final few tracks that gets a little familiar and starts to wear a trifle thin. ‘Heaven Sent’ and ‘Run Through My Head’ features choruses where the title is simply run over and over to the brink of skip-worthiness.
But it’s an album of songs brimming with energy and an infused, wholehearted embrace of everything guitar bands have been churning out while staring out at the Pacific Ocean sunsets. You want your summer to have a host of anthems? Look no further.