Just as the summer starts to rear it’s head in 2015, Best Coast return with a third album. The subject matter remains much the same (California! Summer! Hanging out!), as does the music, but the production values on California Nights are a notable leap up. It’s a catchy, lovely sound, and this is the fullest version of it so far.
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Ok, Best Coast, we get it – you love California, it’s oh so subtly alluded to in all three of your albums. Wait, no - it’s ALL YOU EVER SING ABOUT. Which wouldn’t be so intensely boring if your songs on ‘California Nights’ *sigh * contained the same lo-fi, hazy 60’s pop charm of your debut ‘Crazy For You’. Instead, the band have veered even further from their well – executed formula than on 2012’s dull, Fleetwood Mac-inspirited ‘The Only Place’.
This time around, it seems Bethany and co have either lost the plot completely or the A&R boots have waded in and cleaned up their sound even more with an eye for a hit. The fuzz and chaotic jangle of ‘Crazy For You’ is replaced with a more polished, bigger sound, and the naturally simplistic nature of Bethany Consentino’s lyrics have gone from endearing to excruciatingly cliché.
Of course lyrically, ‘Crazy For You’ was similarly inane, but at least they were decent pop songs. Now it’s mostly contrived, blithe optimism defining Consentino’s words: everything’s sunny and ahhh ooohhh life is great! Sorry Beth, but no – I preferred it when you sang about your cat and getting stoned and how shit boys are.
Filled with hooks that have been done to death and bright sentimentalism, the only redeeming quality of ‘Californian Nights’ is the familiar reference points of surf and garage rock that occasionally simmer beneath its insipid valley girl exterior.
They’re from California though, did you know that?
Best Coast have had a career trajectory that matches Liz Phair’s jump from lo-fi troubadour to Avril Lavigne wannabe but have managed to do it over the course of just three records.
They might be able to Pat Benatar us into submission but leader Beth Cosentino certainly hasn’t been to no writer school. Even by the dumb standards of tweenage pop this is severely facile stuff. “Wake up, you know I feel ok, go to sleep, it’s just another day” are the opening lines to this record. Camus, this isn’t. Which would be completely fine if the music was enjoyable but instead this sub Katy Perry nonsense doesn’t do anything even as interesting as ‘kiss a girl and like it’. Constantino’s scrubbed drawl sits atop some of the cleanest most commercial pop ever to be heard in these offices. ‘Fine Without You’ is kind of like Brian Molko trying to write a theme tune for 'iCarly'. It’s incessant, the production is pure ‘80’s LA hair power pop and even when they do come with a decent riff, it’s recycled off something else (‘In My Eyes ‘ is a dead ringer for The Cars ‘Just What You Needed’). This is an album that can only be aimed at adventurous 12 year old girls.
There’s only two half-decent moments across the whole thing - the title track with its low sludging riff at least clambers out of the sewer with its stadium /80’s melody but even then the vocals are so slathered in autotune and ruined by the ill thought out “will this do?” lyrical couplet of “I never want to get so high, that I can come back down to real life and look you in the eyes and say baby you are mine". People have fought world wars for this. Closer “Wasted Time” benefits from a slightly more restrained production but by this time either Consentinos voice has given you a migraine or you’ve thrown the record out the nearest window.
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