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The duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno are firm believers in simplicity. The songs they record as Best Coast are straight-ahead verse-chorus tunes influenced by various strains of pop and rock from the last 50 years (doo wop, garage rock, girl groups, early punk, '90s indie rock), played without frills and sung super-earnestly. In the hands of people less talented, the end result could have been generic at best, snooze-inducing at worst. Cosentino’s copied-from-her-diary lyrics might sound juvenile (and cringe-inducing) if not sung with a touching sweetness and melancholy that's unadorned by irony. The reliance on simple statements ("I love you", "I miss you", "you make me crazy", etc.) related to affairs of the heart and the multiple references to weed would start to grate unless surrounded by instantly memorable melodies, sharp hooks, and production that adds just the right amount of noise and reverb to the songs. (The lyric about how she wishes her cat, cover star Snacks, could talk is pretty genius, though.) Their debut album, Crazy for You is loaded with songs that you’ll be walking around humming to yourself after only a play or two, songs you’ll be singing along to before they’re half over, and songs that just plain sound good in a familiar and comforting way. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Best Coast don’t add noise to push away the listener or hide the poppiness of the songs; the distortion and reverb they use are warm and inviting, especially when combined with Cosentino’s vocal harmonies. There are few tracks on the record that’ll stun anyone who’s familiar with either their sound or the classic noise pop formula (as established by bands like the Shop Assistants in the '80s), but the band isn’t really about that. Sure, there are a few songs that stand out as highlights (like the insistently catchy “Boyfriend,” which starts the album off perfectly by establishing the main themes and sound to follow; the laid-back ballad “Summer Mood”; and their best song to date, “When I’m with You”), but really, Crazy for You is meant to be an album that creates a mood, a feeling of gentle despair and wistful longing that grows with each song. On that count, it’s a complete success. By the end of the record, you just want to give Cosentino a hug and tell her things are going to work out. Bruno deserves a hug too; for creating a solid background for her longings, he’s a true friend. More importantly, when the record ends you’ll want to play it again. Maybe not right away, but definitely the next time you need some laid-back noisy comfort delivered in short, snappy bursts of near-perfect pop.
Review by Tim Sendra
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