The Only Place
If there was any question after the release of their debut album, 2010's Crazy For You, that Best Coast were interested in remaining among the lo-fi class, well, album number two should answer that loud and clear. Produced by Jon Brion (Kanye West, Rufus Wainwright) in the famous Capitol Studios, The Only Place twangs and jangles with a pristine aural lustre that's as far from their early seven-inches as it gets. Singer/songwriter Bethany Cosentino was also very vocal about ditching her "stoner, cat loving girl" reputation, and so The Only Place's narrative is full of uncertainties and questions that bake and fry in California sun-soaked harmonies. The hints she dropped about a country-ish tinge weren't an exaggeration, as "No One Like You" and "Why I Cry" echo the work of Patsy Cline and Neko Case, respectively. But that influence is no greater than the '60s girl group twinkle of "How They Want Me To Be" or Fleetwood Mac's Sausalito vibes on "Better Girl," all of which are a testament to the expert arrangements of Brion and Cosentino's bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno. Best Coast have always been vocal about their aspirations and while The Only Place may have lost some of the indie-cool charm that made them a hipster's wet dream, this mature statement isn't as drastic a change as you may have been led to believe. Cosentino's songwriting has definitely strengthened, it's just that instead of sounding like her peers at the Smell, she'd rather sound like her heroes on the AM dial, and that's not a bad thing.
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