A couple of months ago, Californian duo Best Coast released its highly anticipated second album, The Only Place. And Ohmy, how disappointing it was.
My love story with Best Coast started during spring 2011, when Youtube suggestions randomly led me to the video of their single When I’m With You, picturing singer Bethany Cosentino dating and having fun with McDonalds’ clown around California.
Even her name sounded like summer to me, and their first album Crazy For You felt as sweet as a road trip in the warm and comfortable hours of the sunset. The eponymous single quickly reached my top 25 songs on iTunes, while The End adorned my fridge’s reminder with its funny lyrics : “I lost my job/I miss my mum/I wish my cat could talk”.
I could sit for hours in my living room, watching through the window while letting my mind get lost at their sound, a mix of Surfer Blood‘s nonchalant surf pop and The Drums‘ innocent tempo. I loved Bethany’s voice, its yearn “oooo oooo ooo” in When The Sun Don’t Shine that would put me in an infinite melancholic vortex.
It’s no surprise that I was highly excited to hear their new work. Even though I read the band wanted to give up a bit the electric guitars for a more acoustic spirit, I was not worried that much. Best Coast had the mojo, was sexy as hell, and it could not be any other way.
Then I heard the first single, The Only Place. And I did want to believe it. I tried to convince myself that the banjo-like rhythm was bearable, that Bethany’s voice, without any distortion, would still crash my mind as hard as before. I was lying to myself.
The eponymous album eventually came out, and listening to it was painful. I could not get through the songs in their entirety, skipping them after 1 minute of play. In Last Year, I would imagine them as scout leaders playing in front of a fire. And I did not like that image. It felt boring and flat. No One Like You sounded like an awful prom song featuring in an even more awful and cliché teen movie. How They Want Me To Be was like a nightmare full of thousands of Alanis Morrissette (Sorry guys, I have always been insensible to Alanis’ music and can do nothing to help it-I assure you I tried. Very hard.) cackling in painful echoes. Only Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To felt quite alright, because of the electric guitar and Bethany sounding truly desperate. But that’s it.
I will stop here. You understood my point, I guess. I was utterly disappointed with The Only Place. I liked none of it. I quite don’t know why. It sounds very folk, and God (or Whatever) knows how much I love folk music. I am a devoted fan of Bright Eyes, Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, Beirut and many others. But here, nothing clicked. It reminded me my disillusion about Cold War Kids‘ last album, Mine Is Yours, being a commercial shadow of itself.
I know working on the second album is a dangerous trick for any band. You have to remain faithful to what made you successful in the first place, while being able to evolve, in order to avoid repeating yourself. I also know that Bethany aimed at being brave, by stopping to “hide” her voice behind the “ooo oooo oooo”s and electronic distortions, and writing more personal, deep and authentic lyrics. I feel sorry for not being able to appreciate all these efforts. I guess Best Coast lost their mojo in this album, sounding like an average folk band. Let’s hope the third album will make me crazy about them again.
Picture : Best Coast official website