Home > Album Reviews, Tales of the Weird > Reviewed: Best Coast – California Nights

Reviewed: Best Coast – California Nights

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by Mat Weir

Can you believe summer is already halfway over? For most of the country it means only 45 or so remaining days of bikinis, barbeques and sun. Luckily, living in Santa Cruz equates to nine months of sun. However, no matter what time of year it is, nothing compares to a California night. Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno of Los Angeles rock duo, Best Coast, know it’s true and proclaim it proudly with their third LP, California Nights.

Formed in 2009, Best Coast has been known for their double-edged love and heartbreak songs dipped in candy-coated garage pop. With Cosentino’s sweet voice singing lyrics like,

Every day’s the same
I feel like I’m losing my mind
All I do is think about you all the time
I don’t even know why I care as much as I do

They brought a sense of masochism wrapped in innocence. The kind only a teenager or 20-something can feel, the rest of us old folk can remember with a tepid nostalgia. Maybe more like a patronizing pat-on-the-head.

California Nights finds Bruno and Cosentino falling into the same trap most of find ourselves–growing up–however they prove it can be done without losing yourself. In the opening track, “Feeling Ok,” Cosentino sounds fresh and ready to take on the world with a new confidence absent on previous recordings. I mean, two albums ago I wouldn’t imagine the duo even writing a song called that, especially with such clear and bubbly production.

“Jealousy” is another favorite that also serves as a change of pace for the band. Previously, a song with that title would probably be about Cosentino’s feelings about her lover hanging out with another woman, or possibly her own jealousy/envy over a friend. However, maturity has the singer/songwriter holding the upper hand asking “Why don’t you like me? What’s with the jealousy?” presumably to a lover or possible family member.

Of course, not everything is different in the Best Coast world. Fans know Cosentino’s love for the Cali green and she’s still blowing smoke on the album’s title track.

I stay high all the time
Just to get by
I climb into the sky
And my eyes, they cry

California nights
Make me feel so happy I could die
But I try to stay alive

However, Cosentino once again shows her maturity in life and songwriting, later on, even if she still questions it.

Fading back and forth
I fly through my mind
I take the way I’ve known
But have I really grown?

By the end of the record, it’s clear: California Nights is the Best Coast sound fans love apart from the angst of previous recordings. The band has matured, putting on their adult pants and maybe substitute the morning wake-’n-bake ritual for a cup of coffee and the morning news. Maybe. One thing’s for sure, this is an album that will be in regular rotation on my turntable for years to come. Call it a guilty pleasure, but nothing quite compares to some good weed paired with pop tunes on these warm California nights.

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