Best Coast – “The Only Place”

Odes to Cali
By Matt Jones

I mentioned in an earlier review that The Ting Tings’ new album Sounds From Nowheresville was one of the first good summer albums of the year. Where The Ting Tings win at being first, Best Coast wins at being… well, best.

Dreamy surf-pop is to California what red dirt country is to Texas, and in their sophomore album The Only Place, duo Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno supercharge the genre with a heavy lo-fi sound and crank up the sentimentalism to 11. It’s easy to infer from album art, a giant bear hugging California, that The Only Place is a 34-minute love letter to the state. But, if you missed that dead giveaway, you could gather a couple more context clues from the first track, also named “The Only Place,” which features the following lyrics:

WHY WOULD YOU LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE?
WHY WOULD YOU LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE??!?!??

and

WE HAVE FUN, WE HAVE FUN, WE HAVE FUN

and

THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE.
THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE.
THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE.
THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE FOR ME.

Well, Bethany Cosentino, I can answer your first question with my new single “We Have Jobs and You Guys Have High Rent and Smog,” the album art for which will feature a 600-foot-tall Willie Nelson embracing the Frost Bank Tower.

All kidding aside, because I don’t really have a single and I would absolutely live in California, The Only Place delivers the passion and emotion to carry this love letter a great distance, buoyed by the thermals of the summer breeze it rode in on. It absolutely reeks of summer; where you might have to ease in to rival(?) duo Beach House’s latest, Bloom, Best Coast opts instead to punch you in the nose with its dreaminess and demand that you listen and JUST RELAX, MAN. I’ll attribute this quality to the abundance of hooks, substantiated by growling guitars, surfy drums, wistful vocals, and REVERB EVERYWHERE. For the hard time I give it, “The Only Place” is no exception and really is a fantastic song. It’s one of the better hooks of the year, even if it throttles the fun out of the “WE HAVE FUN” line.

I like to think of albums as soundtracks; Bill Ryder-Jones’ If… is the soundtrack to a European adventure, Yann Tiersen’s Skyline is a contemplative journey into some great unknown, and Best Coast’s The Only Place is a lazy day that includes waking up late and beaches and no responsibility. And it’s easy to neglect responsibility when you’re just having fun all the time, right Beth?

There are other songs of note on The Only Place besides “The Only Place.” They include “Why I Cry,” curiously placed right after “The Only Place,” which bears a 95% resemblance in chord progression and tempo but pleases all the same. “What a year this day has been / what a day this year has been,” Cosentino sings in “Last Year,” fueling the lazy/dreamy bonfire that starts emitting fireballs in “My Life.” The Only Place is a pretty good mix of upbeat songs and slower numbers, but it’s all dreamy and summery; “Better Girl” finds the sweet spot of this mix as Cosentino wails “You gotta keep me away from what they say about me,” which is either a reference to something personal or to the negative nancies and h8rs who can’t jive with the Best Coast groove. “Let’s Go Home” is the bounciest, liveliest song on the album, but it still packs a great sentimental punch and is a pretty great foil to Yellowcard’s frustrated-with-Cali anthem “Back Home” from, like, ten years ago. No? Anybody? Okay.

If there are three things that new releases have taught us this year, they are as follows:
1) Bruce Springsteen is mad
2) Lana Del Rey likes bad boys
3) BEST COAST HAS FUN AND CALIFORNIA IS BETTER THAN YOUR STATE

But again, for all the fun I poke here, The Only Place is a really good album and as far as summer albums go, you’d be hard pressed to find better mood music. Cosentino’s vocals and guitaring are genuinely pretty, and Bruno knows just the right instrumental strings to pull for the perfect mix. Give The Only Place a try and don’t forget to have fun.

Matt’s picks:
(1) The Only Place
(2) Why I Cry
(3) Last Year
(7) Better Girl
(8) Do You Love Me Like You Used To
(10) Let’s Go Home

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About mattneric

We like music.
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4 Responses to Best Coast – “The Only Place”

  1. Granted Best Coast’s sound can be kind of limited, but when it comes to welcoming summer, there’s nothing like listening to one of their tracks. They’ve captured an effective sonic representation of California that works well with their ode-to-California lyrics.

    I featured “The Only Place” in a recent post…. http://icanseebetterthroughthefog.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/viaje-a-la-luna/

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