It’s almost summer, which means that there are plenty of feel good summer albums to come out in the next month or so. And really, what’s more summer than California? Follow up question; what’s more California than the LA duo Best Coast? Fronted by Bethany Cosentino and backed by Bobb Bruno, the duo have really become known for their easy going summer feel. That couldn’t be more apparent than on their first album Crazy For You, as well as Cosentino’s guest spot on one of Converses “3 Artists One Song” promotion with Kid Cudi and Vampire Weekend’s Rostin a couple of years ago.
Almost two years later, the indie pop duo are releasing their much anticipated follow up, The Only Place. And if you happen to experience some deja vu while listening to this album, don’t worry, you are not crazy. And unless I am crazy, we are sharing the same feelings.
The album starts with it’s title track, an ode to the place they love; the sunny state of California. And that really shows with both the fast feel of it and lyrics asking us why live somewhere else when you can live there. That’s followed up by the rather upbeat downer “Why I Cry,” where Cosentino sings “You seem to think you know everything/You don’t know why I cry.” That bummer leads into a wave of downtempo jams that don’t do anything for me. Songs like “How They Want Me to Be,” “Dreaming My Life Away,” and “Last Year” put you in a lull for the duration of the song, lacking any sort of crescendo or pop. Two of the better songs comes later in the album in the form of “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To” and “Let’s Go Home” which really brins life back to the album, only to be sullied by the last couple of songs – especially the lackluster closer “Up All Night.”
One giant gripe I have with The Only Place, as well as Best Coast in general, is how simple each song is. The lyrics are repetitive and lacking substance, while each song structure is lacking true creativity. Of course, this is no shock to Best Coast fans, as you all know that this is what you get from the duo. Crazy For You has the exact same feel that The Only Place, the biggest difference being that the former has two more songs. There is something to be said for the simplicity, however, as it still turns up some catchy songs from here and there. And it’s fine to stay in that lane, as Best Coast kind of dominates the indie pop scene with this sound. However, if you can’t improve upon and integrate some new sounds in your old way of playing, it becomes incredibly monotonous.
The Only Place reminds me of a soundtrack to a movie that tries to look independent, while still being backed by a large studio. I like to call this “The Juno Effect.” Of course, I’m not implying that they are on a major label (they are currently signed with Mexican Summer), but their sound and continuity to their songs are the perfect ways to back a teenager’s struggles the their world. And unless you’re a big fan of either those types of movies or Best Coast, this album will probably blow right by you. The album isn’t bad, but just didn’t give me the feeling of wanting to go back.
Final Grade: C
Go Download: “The Only Place”