Best Coast – The Only Place (Mexican Summer)
By Scott Creney
I wasn’t expecting much from the new Best Coast album, but god this is fucking awful. What started out as a charming, fuzzy project ends here. The best parts of Best Coast are gone, most likely forever. Those early singles got by on the strength of their mystery, the way the tape hiss shrouded Bethany Cosetino’s songs in a haze that evoked the California life she was singing about. Let’s remember them this way:
Twenty years from now, when people look back on music from the early 21st Century and talk about how “music used to be so great back then compared to now” (the way people always do — and to folks out there who just “love music from the 80s”, I could play you some Top 10 hits from that decade that would make you never want to hear music again), there will probably be a few Best Coast songs popping up on some of those compilations. I can absolutely guarantee you there won’t be any songs from The Only Place. Here’s the first song on the new album. Enjoy.
She probably thinks the guy who makes her sundae at the Cold Stone Creamery is smiling because he’s genuinely happy. The truth is his boss will fucking fire him if he doesn’t smile. Let’s get this straight. California is a shallow fucking cesspool of greed, ambition and supermodel decay. Even the fucking Eagles knew that. To say nothing of Nathaniel West, Arthur Lee, NWA, etc. etc. Either Bethany Cosentino is being ironic, or she is a moron. It’s your choice, but The Only Place is an album so simple-minded, so relentlessly, almost defiantly, shallow, that it seems almost hard to believe. This album sounds the way watching television for eight straight hours feels — if you made sure to turn up the volume whenever a commercial came on. It makes The Journey of Lauren Conrad and Friends seem like a spiritual quest.
The lyrics are riddled in vagueness and cliché. Like the high school girl pretending she’s bad at math, Cosentino refuses to acknowledge any emotion more complicated than happy/sad, or any thought more nuanced than a plot summary in the TV Guide. For a grown woman, an adult human, to write this shit with a straight face, it’s almost embarrassing.
This album runs the gamut of shittiness. Music and production out of a yogurt commercial. Vocals auto-tuned within an inch of their life. The first two songs have the same tempo and nearly identical chord progressions. Everything about this album feels uninspired and lazy. The fact that it’s been two years since the last album is either a testament to Best Coast’s hectic tour schedule, or all that stuff they say about smoking weed is true.
She sings about people being born with sun in their teeth — which would be awesome if she meant it in a weird, creepy sense (news flash: babies don’t have teeth). But it’s probably just there because Bethany Cosenstino was too — I’m trying to avoid using the phrase”too much of a moron” here — stoned to really think about it.
Sadly, ‘My Life’ isn’t a Billy Joel cover. ‘No One Like You’ isn’t the Scorpions song. ‘Up All Night’ bears no resemblance to The Boomtown Rats song. And just so we’re clear: I never thought the day would come when I’d rather hear Billy Joel than Best Coast.
This album shits all over any potential Best Coast might once have had. It’s music for children. And even as that, it’s simple — in every sense of the word. If you enjoy this album and you’re over the age of 10, you probably think the Kardashians are real people and you care about them immensely. It sounds like Bethany Coesntino has a nice life. And I don’t doubt that for one second. But it has nothing to do with any life that I recognize, and I sure as shit don’t see why people would pay money to see it unless they were very, very happy. Or very, very sad.
Ultimately, it’s boring. And Bethany Cosentino used to be so much better at being boring.