Arguably, Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno’s greatest moment since Boyfriend came earlier this year. The title track for Best Coast‘s new album, California Nights, arrived as one of those songs that fully encapsulated its title: a hazy, languorous guitar-driven cut, it felt like the LA sun was setting in front of us as Cosentino talks about staying high all the time. Very few people have better captured the magic of tripped-out twilight the way this does.
More noticeably, it abandoned Best Coast’s trademark lo-fi jangly fuzz to put Cosentino front and centre at a more unhurried pace than what we’re used to. In the context of the album as a whole, that works both ways for them: it goes to show that the band actually excel when changing gear (much like they did on Up All Night from The Only Place), but without that DIY charm their regular M.O. and simple lyrics are much more exposed.
By and large, Cosentino still makes it work. In My Eyes, for example, may be full of trite couplets like “I treated you badly/ We ended so sadly”, but it’s held together on her stoner sincerity, and Feeling OK is joyous in both chorus and construction. Nevertheless – as is the general complaint with Best Coast – there’s still a lot of very similar grunge-indebted radio rock throughout. So Unaware struggles to differentiate itself from When Will I Change, and the ‘slacker’s guide to a breakup’ vibe begins to wear by Fading Fast.
All of this makes that mind-blowing title track stand out even more as a direction they should lean toward. Sure, the record as a whole would be a decent soundtrack to a Pacific drive, but we’ve had two full albums of that already. While California Nights is a perfectly serviceable record, Best Coast are really going to have to up their game to stop us snoozing through in future.
California Nights by Best Coast can be ordered here.