Best Coast: Crazy For You
Today, L.A. pop trio Best Coast will drop their highly anticipated debut LP, Crazy for You, via Mexican Summer. Since April 2009, frontwoman Bethany Cosentino and bassist Bobb Bruno have taken their fuzzy hooks and neo-60s pop and sprung from scrappy, underground West Coast starlets to the epitome of blogosphere cool—and then, with advance copies of their unexpectedly brilliant record in tow, became Kid Cudi collaborators and Rolling Stone “Band of the Week,” garnering praise from NPR and the Times, moving from college radio’s DIY waves to Sirius-level indie rock status. Packed with ruthlessly catchy tales of unrequited beach-boy love, the band’s initial tracks floated from Bruno’s bedroom to an endless sea of taste-making blogs—now, the full-length is streaming exclusively at the Urban Outfitters website. Despite the band’s habit of releasing coveted vinyl 7-inches and EPs on small labels like Art Fag and Post Present Medium, their comfort with corporations extends further: a first music video pictured Cosentino frolicking around the beach with Ronald McDonald, plus recent song “All Summer” was tracked with Cudi and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglijfor a Converse sneakers campaign.
With Cosentino’s honest accessibility and recognizably unique voice, Best Coast’s fan base is bound to stretch from lo-fi aficionados and music buffs to moms and suburban teens alike—and Crazy for You will go down as one of the current fuzz-pop generation’s quintessential records.
Crazy for You is a collection of gleaming pop songs about awful, heartbreaking young boys, crafted distinctly for awkward, heartbroken young girls. Lyrically inspired by the simplicity and heartache of 60s girl-groups like the Shangri-Las and the Ronnettes, Cosentino’s songs are formulaic: she perpetually rhymes “crazy,” “lazy,” and “baby” when musing on a boy who is always leaving, repeatedly layered with “oohs” and “aahs,” reverb-laden Ramones-like guitars and upbeat, Beatles-inspired drums. Application of said formula to every track lines the band up with the 60s groups they set out to recreate, whose relentless devotion to minimalist boy-ballads is at work sonically and conceptually. As sun peaks through the reverby haze, Cosentino sings about weed-induced freak-outs and the potentiality of engaging her cat in conversation.
The record kicks off with the breezy drumbeat of “Boyfriend”— over a fuzzy riff and collage of Spector-inspired “oohs” and “aahs,” Cosentino repeats, “I wish he was my boyfriend” in a saccharine voice tottering between the 50s innocence and 90s snark that guide the record. Title track “Crazy for You” ups the tempo of the pop-by-numbers, crazy/lazy/baby formula, casually tossing in comical and now quintessential Best Coast rhymes like “Want to kill you, but then I’d miss you” and “Even though you are my guy, I always freak when I get high.”
“The End” and “Goodbye” are girly anthems written for an optimistic chick to manically scream into a hairbrush microphone while hopping around her bedroom. Inspired by The Everly Brothers, “The End” has a distinct Biz Markie “Just a Friend” appeal—as Bethany sings, “You say that we’re just friends / but I want this ‘til the end,” her lyrics are gripping and maddeningly relatable. Such is also the case on “Goodbye,” which sees Bethany unable to find happiness in “even TV or a bunch of weed.” The track delivers the album’s most incredible line: “I lost my job, I miss my mom, I wish my cat could talk.”
Crazy for You gets slow and ballady on shiny heartbreaker “Our Deal”—a previously released single and perhaps the album’s technical best work. Equally haunting is the chugging, three-minute “Honey”—though the album’s longest and most haunting song, it never quite reaches the spellbinding mystique of 60s groups like the Shangri-Las. Cosentino has joked in interviews about her inclinations towards Miley Cyrus and Paramore—it’s that polish that stands in the way of reaching a truly authentic 60s sound.
“I Want To” almost gets there: a gem buried in the sand, it’s a slow number with a cool riff and pounding, hypnotic bass drum, increasingly mesmerizing as Cosentino blankly repeats “I want you so much,” before breaking out a 50-second slab of rocketfire surf-rock. Album closer “Each and Everyday” bottles up her formula and eventually slows to the most vintage and 60s Cosentino is capable of, as she repeats, “You will never fall in love” over and over, a reminder of how romanticized an escapist world of beaches and sun and talking cats and weed really is.
Devoted fans may find Crazy for You painfully poppy and miss her more interesting and adventurous early singles: absent from Crazy for You, “Up All Night” was Cosentino’s longest and most heartbreaking work. The slow pop collage opens with a heavy wash of reverb recalling waves crashing on the sand; choppy acoustic guitar strums and layers of melodic reverb pile high to a richer and less syrupy piece. Another early, massively reverby track, “In My Room” featured slow and oft-indecipherable words. Early fans will miss the buzzes and wooshes; the ticking, mechanical wall of reverb that kept her melodies weird and safe. “When I’m With You” is a bonus track on the album and was released earlier as a single; undoubtedly a gem, the song’s slim, surfy guitar lines and straightforward main-lyric (“When I’m with you I have fun”) embody what she’s all about.
The Best Coast Story is a simple, storybook Cali-girl saga, relentlessly rehashed and glorified by music blogs and magazines since last summer: girl grows up in California and becomes Hollywood child actress by age four, by age fifteen crafts demo tracks in line with early Rilo Kiley that send major labels knocking. She turns them down, and in 2008 moves to New York to study Creative Writing. She grows homesick and depressed by snow and comforts herself with beach music. Feeling uninspired, the 23-year old California girl drops out and heads homes with an Elements of Style to pop-song craftsmanship. In April 2009, Bethany Cosentino posted a reintroduction blog to her MySpace: “so i am back in california, and i thought what could be more fitting than to record a bunch of songs about summer and the sun and the ocean and being a lazy creep?” she wrote. “i hope that every11111 likes it and can make out to it on a beach blanket this summer.”
It helps that Cosentino has built a wall-of-buzz by surrounding herself with some of the most controversial figures in modern indie rock: her boyfriend is Nathan Williams, frontman of LA pop punk trio Wavves, who crushed the blogosphere last year after a drug-induced on-stage meltdown at Barcelona’s Primvera Festival. Drummer Allie Koehler, previously of the Vivian Girls, began a similarly controversial web presence when her band bashed non-punk people in a YouTube video that also went viral. Bassist Bobb Bruno seems the only normal dude on Cosentino’s radar—a musician and producer, he creates his own shoegaze/electronic, and has recorded tracks for a slew of impressive artists including Wilco’s Nels Cline. According to his MySpace, he’s opened for Wilco, Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey.
Thus, the Best Coast story updates another age-old 60s concept outside of their music: pop-star mythmaking. Via Twitter and her blog, Cosentino has crafted an unstoppably distinct web persona—bubbling with character, her online presence is why so many feel they can relate to her. She talks about everything from the Jersey Shore and Miley Cyrus to the Descendents and smoking tons of weed. On her blog, picture updates of Budweiser dresses and Garfield faces feel like a modern, bloggy version of 60s lowbrow Pop art; pictures of 50s boys with slick, jet-black hair and dark Ray Bans, plus videos of boy crazy Hayley Mills doing “Johnny Jingo” circa 1962, embody her aesthetic and sonic influences. She has a chubby, Garfield-looking Tabby cat named Snacks, with multiple Facebook fan pages and a personal Twitter account of his own. Bethany Cosentino puts herself out there; follow her online presence, and you will feel she is your best friend. And you’ll always love your best friend’s music more.
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I always wanted to give a commencement speech.
My ears listened to what they wanted me to believe.
3. Don’t get mad, get everything.
But I am here to talk about realities, realities that are based on experiences, guy talks (who cares about that?) and late night chats with good female friends of mine.