When you’re preparing yourself for the ‘First Listen’ of any band, act or artist, you already have a few preconceptions nested in your mind before you’ve even unwrapped the gem case wrapper or opened the zipped file. With a band like Best Coast, you would be freely showing yourself to be a damned liar if you didn’t admit you’d be expecting sunshine and cats. Well, this forthcoming album - entitled ‘The Only Place’, Best Coast’s second to date - has a grizzly bear on the freakin’ cover! Our mind is collectively blown, all things that have come before evidently bears (get it?) no meaning now.
But things don’t stop there. ‘I’m trying really hard to grow up,” Bethany Cosentino says of the new record. “I’m trying to let go of my bad habits and the immature things I still drag around with me.’ Yep, this is clearly a period of change for Best Coast. Gone is that fuzzy, lo-fi production that made the album sound like it was recorded on a Macbook, and was so accessible to bloggers sitting in their bedrooms everywhere who thought “Yeah, we too can record music on our Macbooks.” And sadly, many of them did.
“We got the ocean, got the babes, got the sun, we got the waves,” Bethany sings on the album’s title-track and first single. Or should that be “We got the Wavves”? Namedrop to Costennos’ much-noted boyfriend aside, this second album seems to be gearing up to be heading in the same direction and with the similar intent as that of Nathan Williams’ third effort ‘King Of The Beach’. Wavves’ last album dropped the cluttering feedback and angsty, nasally vocals in favour of power chords and carefree exuberance. Likewise here, Bethany steps to the fore. While sonically drowned out of the first album, Bethany is in the track’s limelight here, our listening mind is completely pre-occupied by the side of the headphones that her vocals are coming out of - almost so much so that the instrumentation could be easily overlooked if it wasn’t for that sweet, 60’s surf-rock melody flowing subtly underneath.
But there’s still that sunkissed tinge galore, that side of things hasn’t gone anywhere. ‘The Only Place’ is an ode to Beth and co’s home state of California. “Why would you live anywhere else?” Cosentino asks. Well because of complex socio-economic issues, Bethany. This aside, there’s been much talk and tweets about how this album is going to be a “summer album”. What else were you expecting? I would be more looking forward to their “winter” album - now that would be shock! I can just envision it now: a concept album of Shoreditch in December. Bleach-blonde boys with washboard abs surfing the tide would be replaced by the just as likely a muse of coughing old men on the 55 bus wearing thermals over and under their clothes. That and only that would be something notably worth tweeting about.
Regardless, it does give you that summer feel, that “I wish I wasn’t stuck in this office” vibe. And I guess this is exactly what we have been needing right now, as winter becomes spring. Let’s try not to worry about how alarmingly nice the weather has been, how this could be an early indicator of the end of the world, and how all the while we’ve been having a laugh and drinking Pimms. No, let’s throw caution to the light breeze, turn the stereo up and let the buzz wash over us. Rejoice!