In 2009, as Bethany Cosentino crafted her debut recording as Best Coast, she took to her Myspace blog and famously declared that upon the album’s completion, her fans were encouraged to “make out to it on a beach blanket this summer.” Her phrasing was prophetic: Best Coast’s early EPs and first full-length release, Crazy For You, are indeed the ideal soundtrack to a crazy, hazy summer afternoon.
By that logic, the band’s contemplative second LP The Only Place would be a companion piece for sundown, the moment when that last sliver of light fades across the horizon and life’s darker realities start to set in. And much like the aftermath of any great day on the beach, The Only Place will leave you feeling sluggish.
The album’s biggest problem isn’t the slowed-down tempos, or even the fact that Cosentino shows very little improvement as a songwriter. It’s that star producer Jon Brion (Kanye West, of Montreal, Dido) discards the band’s trademark lo-fi fuzz in favour of a lifelessly clean sound, a very poor match for Cosentino’s almost painfully simple guitar-pop ditties.
From the throwaway tourism jingle of the opening title track all the way to the cringe-worthy monotony of the closing three songs, The Only Place feels more tired than inspired. Only the glossy version of recent demo “How They Want Me To Be,” the album’s emotional centerpiece, hits the mark. Apart from that, there’s nothing memorable enough here to qualify for the domain of every true summer classic: the bonfire sing-along.
Playlist pick: “How They Want Me To Be”