In 2010, Best Coast brought out their debut album, Crazy For You. A collection of personal, angst fuelled love songs, lyrically organised into simple childlike structures, backed by warm distorted guitar and chord progressions straight from 1960’s surfer rock. Its hazy summer ambience was reinforced by the band name, a pun on “west coast” where they, and their influences, originated. Sweet, wistful and well executed, it paved the way for future success and truly defined them as a band. California Nights, their third album really does document the maturity of Best Coast, but hints at a case of too much, too soon.
A band quintessential to the ultimate relaxed holiday vibe is not easily associated with the harsh ambition of progression to become an act with the main goal of high record sales at the forefront of creating music. And whilst this is a good thing, it is possibly the reason why California Nights is not as iconic as it could have been. It hangs somewhere between selling out, being a game-changing masterpiece, and being a collection of songs that didn’t make it onto the first two albums. Best Coast don’t quite hit the nail on the head in any of those ways and there is definitely no evidence of a big step, or even establishing themselves as the band they deserve to be. It’s the safe option.
As harsh a critic that I may be, I believe that credit is due where it is deserved. There are some exceptional tracks on this album. ‘California Nights’ is slow, dreamlike and psychedelic, whilst ‘Heaven Sent’ is the ultimate girl band anthem. The song ‘Run through my head’ isn’t the strongest musically, but it exposes singer Bethany Cosentino’s talent as a songwriter, emphasising that songs don’t have to be complex when the lyrics are real and pure. Musically, better production values have given the band a cleaner sound. Their trademark romantic melodies have been dismantled, and the overall “je ne sais quoi” of Best Coast has been erased, but these things have been replaced with clearer guitar in a more fast paced style. From this, an overall feel is that the album has been influenced by grunge and 90’s punk in some aspects, which fits with their trademark stoner rock essence. The experimentation is interesting, and there is definitely a feel that Best Coast have headed towards a style that is liked by the majority of alternative music listeners. California Nights sounds more pop punk, which will definitely appeal to a wider audience. It’s crisp, fresh whilst still recognisable as Best Coast.By Sophie Goodall