Album review: Best Coast, "Crazy for You"

August 4, 2010

Best Coast, "Crazy for You" (Mexican Summer/Wichita) Rating: 3.5/4

 

The debut album by the L.A.-based indie-pop trio Best Coast arrives like a cool breeze off the lake on the most oppressive day of the summer—and as such, the occasional moments of cloying sweetness, the deafening hipster buzz (based both on front woman Bethany Cosentino’s pedigree as a former member of the more spacey Pocahaunted and her current status dating Nathan Williams of Wavves), and most of all that obnoxiously cute album cover (the adventures of Cosentino’s cat Snacks are documented in-depth along with a wide range of other topics on her Twitter account) all are easily forgiven in the face of the irresistible pleasures.

“When I’m with you/I have fun,” Cosentino coos in the closing track. And let’s face it, sometimes that’s enough.

The key ingredient in Best Coast’s delightful sugar high is Cosentino’s voice, which can range from a gentle wisp to a much heavier, but always melodic, roar. She’s a rarity among the current crop of indie-rock crooners in that she really can sing, in the same way that Neko Case or Kelly Hogan can sing, or, to reach back to a vocal inspiration even more relevant to these proceedings, the way that Petula Clark could sing. And her voice is ideally suited to a strong set of lilting pop tunes crafted with key collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno that draw equally from pre-Beatles ’60s pop (with Lulu and Dusty Springfield almost as relevant as Clark), classic California surf music, and mid-’60s garage rock, with just a hint of ’90s shoegazer fuzz held over from Pocahaunted, though that could just as well be a result of Lewis Pesacov’s relatively lo-fi production.

This hardly is a formula of startling originality. Nor does Cosentino have much to say beyond the usual accounts of teenage romantic woes, though she does occasionally slip in a declaration of more wanton desires (“I hate sleeping alone” she concludes in “When I’m With You”) or a hint that she’s not nearly as servile as that seductive voice might lead you to believe (“I’m sorry I lost your favorite T-shirt/I’ll buy you a new one, a better one,” she sings in “Bratty B.” “I promise I won’t be such a brat/If I promise you anything, I promise you that”). But innovation isn’t the point here; sheer pleasure is, and in that regard, “Crazy for You” is a heckuva good ride.