Best Coast - 'The Only Place'By Ronnie Spekker
- The Only Place
- Why I Cry
- Last Year
- My Life
- No One Like You
- How They Want Me To Be
- Better Girl
- Do You Love Me Like You Used To
- Dreaming My Life Away
- Let's Go Home
- Up All Night
There used to be a thing called College Rock, and embedded in that description was a kind of insult— this is kids’ stuff. But now, since the context of indie rock has so dramatically changed in the last ten years, anything is fair game. Best Coast has made the sound of teenage longing available to you regardless of your age, or whether or not you’re in school. This is the sound of an imagined adolescence. Unlike so many of the band’s musical forbears (twee-pop, emo, indie country bands), Best Coast does not see the kitsch value in navel-gazing. Self-effacement has gone out of style. It’s no longer enough to sing songs about teenage feelings with the skill-set of a teenager. Instead, they’ve ditched the punk rock roots of DIY sloppy playing and kept the substance of the music. Bethany Cosentino sings too well to be an indie pop star. Her full-throated harmonies give gravity and power to what could be, in someone else’s hands, puerile or plaintive bedroom anthems. These are not songs to put on mixtapes to your pen pals. These guys take this stuff very seriously and you should too.
The whole trip of California is that it’s kind of an imaginary place. Americans, for centuries, treated the West Coast as a kind of frontier where anyone could go and find a new life. California held the promise of gold, natural beauty, Hollywood, 60's San Francisco, liberation, freedom. A place where you could let your hair down, take drugs, fuck whomever you wanted to fuck, and be whoever you wanted to be. These are the dreams of teenagers, also. People dreamed of California (and still do) as a metaphor for personal fulfillment, imagination embodied, untroubled by the same history as the rest of the world, simply because California is newer, natch. This is what Best Coast conveys.
It’s sort of uncomfortable and tender to take your imagination so seriously. How would you let yourself really go there? The Only Place is like a postcard sent to you from your cousin out West, enticing you to be the most you you could be. The songs are breezy, curious, engaged, and earnestly written. The sounds of sweetness and brightness; like Phil Spector’s music, evacuated of the trauma and anxiety. It’s like tourism. You don’t even have to go there. You couldn’t really, anyways. Even if you got to California, it wouldn’t match the picture you had of it in your head. And this, the sneaking realization that things might not live up to your fantasy, is exactly what the new Best Coast record sounds like.
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