Best Coast – The Only Place

Rating: ★★★★☆

Chances are, if you know anything about Best Coast, it’s that front woman Bethany Cosentino really likes cats.  Or perhaps you’ve delved into the tuneage of said cat-obsessed female and found that she also creates some pretty sunny California pop jams. Best Coast have shown they can crank out some quick paced and fun jangly pop, but can they be more than that?

Substance has never really been Best Coast’s style; their first album, Crazy For You barely passes the thirty-minute mark, with each of the thirteen songs not averaging much more than two minutes apiece. If length of songs is any indication of the changes that this band has undergone, than it’s clear that they’ve grown up a bit. The Only Place has a range of songs, but the majority reach three minutes. Even at this first glance, you can see that the second time around this group is straying from dropping into the pattern of becoming the same old same old. The first song and title track, “The Only Place” sets things off on the right foot. From the moment you press play, it’s like opening a bag of sunshine and ocean spray into your speakers. It’s classic Best Coast: we’re still having fun, we’re still hitting the beach and those guitar riffs are still surfy.

The biggest difference between this sophomore release and Crazy For You is maturity. Yes, the songs aren’t chock full with lyrics of eloquent diction and complex syntax, but Cosentino has definitely stepped it up. She has moved past the overt simplicity of songs like “Happy,” in which repetition was the song’s key lyric. On The Only Place, even on one of the shorter numbers, “My Life,” there’s still an immense amount more of actual lyrics that make sense to generate some kind of story instead of just the moody emotions of a California Girl.

Another sign of this maturity is a big push for stronger, slower songs on this album. One of my favorite numbers, “How They Want Me,” combines Cosentino rocking the ballad, with the continuation of the groovy guitar of the rest of the tracks, some interestingly detailed percussion topped with some “oohs” and “ahhs,” that layer to give this song that extra punch. It’s tracks like these and others like “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To,” which lead me to believe in the longevity of this album. Whereas Crazy for You got a little tired a little fast, this albums packs a greater punch than just a few listens.

It’s a perfect album for the upcoming heat and freedom of summertime. So roll down your windows and savor those last few weeks of a breeze with Best Coast.