Best Coast, comprised of songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Bethany Cosentino and multi-talented instrumentalist Bobb Bruno, are a duo from California who have been very successful after the release of their previous two albums and starter EPs. With a vibe often described as ‘stoner rock’, debut album and the more recent The Only Place have featured songs largely about boyfriends and then losing boyfriends and then smoking weed with boyfriends. Not to trivialize in any way, it’s an impressive collection of 2 to 3 minute catchy summer anthems. But it’s content, with the exception of one or two, remains the same and remains very ‘we are young we are free let’s enjoy our summer’ kind of vibe.
For Best Coast the summer of youth seems to have ended, and now we look back on it with an eye of nostalgia and anxiety about what it all meant anyway. I know it sounds really cliché to call the most recent effort or a later album release a ‘mature effort’, but that’s really what comes to mind upon listening to Fade Away for the first time. An EP come mini-album, this recent release picks up on the old school Best Coast of summery lazy listening, yet it’s more catchy than ever.
It is a notably more mature sounding set of tracks, largely because of it’s lyrical content and the topics Cosentino is considering. We have moved on up from ‘I wish he was my boyfriend’ to ‘Who have I become?’ and ‘When did I wake up and suddenly my soul had grown so old?’. The music is still distinctly ‘Best Coast’, with a few little tweaks here and there. The reverb and repetition and simple guitar melodies of their grunge-like garage-pop still remain, but with slight additions and added beats, as the now slightly older and slightly wiser Cosentino ponders what adult life means and what it’s all worth, and asks and answers questions about their life and success that I imagine keep many a 26 year old up at night.
It has been easy in the past to write her lyrics off as ‘easy’ or overly simplistic, but she is tapping into emotions and feelings that are commonplace. She has become an expert in converting complex human emotions into one sentence, or one line, or a couple of words. Accompanied by a woozy guitar melody, and a sophistication that has previously escaped the band, this is what makes Fade Away one of my favourite pieces of work from Best Coast. However anxious Bethany is about her success or her age or ability or her love life or what life actually means, she can take comfort in the fact that Fade Away seems to indicate that she’s doing really rather well, and has captured it all rather wonderfully – despite the obstacles that life may have been metaphorically putting in her way.