Best Coast – California Nights
Released: May 5, 2015
Best Coast’s first album Crazy For You is a lo-fi under-produced celebration of California, weed and breakups. Their second album The Only Place is a glossy over-produced celebration of California, weed, and breakups. The former was a big success and the latter is almost entirely forgettable. I think The Only Place fell deep into Scenario 2 of sophomore album mistakes. The flaws and smudges on the production of Crazy For You were a big part of what made it so charming and when they cleaned up for The Only Place it just wasn’t the same.
On their third proper LP California Nights, Best Coast has figured out how to balance their amateur lo-fi tendencies with brighter professional production and the resulting sound fits the band better than either of their previous efforts. The pace is faster, the guitars are louder and the pop is peppier. Basically Best Coast just made a pop punk album and it totally works.
The first half of California Nights moves quickly. Opening with the infectious “Feeling OK”, lead singer Bethany Consentino seems immediately at peace with the band’s new aesthetic. She cites both Steely Dan and Blink-182 as significant influences on her songwriting and though they are an unlikely pairing, it makes a lot of sense when you hear it.
California Nights sounds both more focused and more effortless than any of their previous material; here they act like professionals but not sell-outs. The best example of this new focus is the clean and relaxed “Fading Fast”, a sunny HAIM-esque pop-rock track that is easily one of the most radio friendly tunes the band has ever produced. California Nights is a surprisingly well rounded record too. Despite the sugar coated melodies and high-octane guitar work, songs like the dark and dreamy “California Nights” and the atmospheric ballad “Wasted Time” prove Best Coast is more versatile than ever before. It’s taken a few tries but for the first time the idea of Best Coast truly syncs with the sound of Best Coast.
To adapt is to survive. Though California Nights is far from perfect, the growth this group has displayed is really satisfying to hear. After a classic second album misfire, Best Coast has grown up and found a new voice that expertly balances their crystalline melodies with more ambitious and energetic production. With California Nights, Best Coast is once again a worthy representative of their beloved state.
Top Tracks: “California Nights”, “Feeling OK”, “Fading Fast”