Best Coast’s full-length debut sounded so instantly familiar upon first listen that I feared it might grow stale before summer’s end. However, in the weeks since its release, as August drew to a close here in Western New York, the album’s 13 songs have continued to impress – even taking on new meaning as the seasons changed. Playing the album as I tended bar recently, a customer complained that Crazy For You should have come out earlier in the summer. True though it is that the band evokes sunny California beaches with its surf-sounding garage pop, there’s more to the songs than just their music.
The simplicity of Bethany Cosentino’s lyrics has been a point of criticism in some reviews. However, while half the reason the songs are so instantly familiar, the lyrics are wholly what gives the album an autumnal quality equal to its summer vibe. Cosentino’s choruses are more mantra than anything else, with phrases like “I hate sleeping alone” repeated almost to the point of nonsense. But there’s a pining in her voice, a longing for something not available to her in the timeframe of the songs. That’s what could make Crazy For You a fall album for some listeners. Sure, it’s been a good party record this summer, but as one goes away to college or finds him or herself longing for the longer, sunny days of June and July, the album is able to take on new meaning.
With perhaps the exception of the song “Happy,” most all the lyrics on Crazy For You clash with the music. It’s not a new formula, but one that works here to give the album more depth than is noticeable from the first few listens. Even after all the nights I played the album at work, it took a solitary drive and some time listening with headphones to really pick up on how sad Cosentino’s lyrics can be. Or not sad so much as frustrated and exhausted, to the point that she can’t even muster up the energy to be angry. “I lost my job, I miss my mom, I wish my cat could talk,” she wails on “Goodbye,” adding that nothing makes her happy, “not even TV or a bunch of weed.” Throughout the song she repeats the point of the track in the line, “Every time you leave this house, everything falls apart.” The song could be a tearjerker if sung differently and to a less bouncy and driving beat. Yet, as played by Best Coast, it practically begs the listener to clap along. The effect of the two together, the lyrics and the music, is something like a shrug of the shoulders. As Cosentino lists her myriad of problems, the music serves as a sort of salve. Somehow that’s what makes the album so enjoyable.
Whereas other summer pop can be upbeat but vapid, Best Coast’s Crazy For You truly has the feeling of cutting loose from problems and worries while actually acknowledging them. It’s highly enjoyable in all respects and one of the better of all the lo-fi, girl group, beach revival releases to come out in the last year.Visit: Best Coast | Mexican Summer
Purchase: Insound | eMusic