[ALBUM: Review] Best Coast – The Only Place
The Only Place
One of the more interesting directives given to journalists by a record label (yup, that happens) in recent months would have to be, “Don’t ask Bethany about weed or her cat.” As this is Best Coast’s second album, it is therefore implicitly understood that this is to be a more mature offering.
Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Elliott Smith) has jumped on board, and this pairing makes beautiful sense: Best Coast’s glazed, ‘60s-leaning pop is a natural match for Brion’s lush, baroque production style. Yet, album #2 doesn’t offer the radical sonic leap suggested by this hi-fidelity fit. For the most part, The Only Place offers only a slight, albeit pleasing, progression from Crazy For You.
Bethany Cosentino’s songwriting hasn’t as much improved as expanded. For one, the ballads well outnumber the pop blasts: heartbroken Rydell High waltzes (‘Last Year’, ‘No-One Like You’) sound resigned in a beautifully removed way, while the Dusty-esque torch song ‘How They Want Me To Be’ is a highlight, perfectly melding Brion’s pop classicism with Cosentino’s flair for the dramatic. It’s not all slow heartbreak though: ‘Let’s Go Home’ and ‘Do You Love Me Like You Used To’ both hurtle forward addictively. Wrapped in Brion’s widescreen production, they are the most instant moments on the record.
Thematically, Cosentino is still focused solely on matters of the heart, shedding the Cali-slacker subject matter along the way. The lyrics are less teenage too, more ‘numb trolley-bus’ than diary purge – she has a better grasp on her feelings this time around, but they are more severe, making the ballads ache and undercutting the pop moments.
The Only Place is a deeper and more satisfying listen than Crazy For You. Less cats, though.