Do you know what Best Coast reminds me of? Courtney Love smoking a cheeky spliff in the bathroom of her high school halls. With all those 90’s punk badges tattooed to her crop leather jacket. (Of course, Speaker TV can’t verify whether Love actually did this – take it as painting a picture).
The American pair have dropped their tertiary album California Nights. It’s been a good three years since they released their last studio album The Only Place, and this new instalment does not disappoint. While slightly different in aesthetic, that 90’s surf-pop-rock vibe Best Coast have going for them still rings true.
The ferocity of the drums, the constant energetic rhythm, the long rhyming vocal lines, and the electric guitar solo’s – it’s old age surf-rock meets a new age sound – and California Nights develops the nostalgia even further – inject a little punk.
The title track ‘California Nights’ is by far the standing ovation, and is an absolutely addictive piece of music. For many a reason; those distinct vocal lines Bethany Cosentino fancies are utilised perfectly here, the slower tempo adds a change of pace to the album (which is refreshing), the emphasis on the electric guitar and the reverb effects used creates a colossal dark character to the track. It really is an instant classic for anyone that has both feet in the punk and pop pools. Think Veruca Salt, Blondie and Hole converging lanes on route 69.
“California Nights / Make me feel so happy, I could die / But I try to stay alive / And I never want to get so high / That I can’t come back down to real life / And look you in they eyes and say baby, you’re mine.” There is a distinct personality to this song, and those long vocal lines paint a picture over the lyrical content. You see every little emotion in your head, it’s classical word painting, and it’s beautiful.
In the process, some points of the album such as the track ‘So Unaware,’ (with rhymes and the elements true to the duo’s character) become a little repetitive. Unfortunately, it seemed a little over done. But that’s why the softer paces of ‘In My Eyes’ or ‘Wasted Time’ are so important. It reminds the listener that this high energy, rhyming couplets are only one piece of the puzzle, and that there are more layers to this Best Coast onion.
Here, I think it’s important for a listener to focus on personality, as it’s key with any new release.
A new album needs to somewhat maintain the bands ‘authenticity’ – I know that’s a taboo word in the music industry but it doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. While some might say a large chunk of the tracks on the album are similar in construction and style, they never really sound the same. Particularly when you consider Best Coast’s past releases.
It’s like the two are using the same colours on the paint wheel, but in different ways. They are using the elements they dearly love, in different orders, to create new patterns, which really is a positive, and creates a single personality to the entire album. With each track acting as a mood swing, this person is angry, or sad, or happy, but each song (in this case – emotion) stems from the same brain and the same emotional content. There is a consistent artistry, and sometimes that is incredibly difficult to achieve. Courtney Love would indeed be proud.
California Nights was released on May 1st through Harvest Records.