For their second album, The Only Place, California duo Best Coast hired Jon Brion as producer. Right away it's clear that the fuzzily lo-fi noise pop sound of their debut, Crazy for You, was a thing of the past, and the band was looking to smooth things out quite noticeably. Hiring Brion to produce a noise pop record is like asking Rothko to paint your mailbox. What Brion and the band have done is replace the simplistic drone of the distorted guitars with a more layered, much janglier sound, added tons of space to the arrangements, and made sure each song gets the sonic approach it needs instead of the set-it-up-and-record-it style of Crazy. The result is an album that has a classic pop
ock sound that anyone who's heard an R.E.M. or Beach Boys or Springsteen record will instantly identify with and understand. It may disappoint anyone who wanted Crazy for You, Pt. 2, but the band didn't make this record for those people. On a sonic level alone, the record works very well. Bethany Cosentino reliably writes super-catchy melodies and sings them winningly, Bobb Bruno does a fine job filling in the songs with hooky guitar lines, and Brion adds the little touches that have made his name as a producer. The uptempo songs have a light bounce that will have people bopping along, the ballads have fully realized arrangements that sound dreamy as can be, and the whole record has a warmth that was missing from anything the band did before. Give the group credit for taking a step forward from Crazy for You: the album sounds great, full of catchy and well-crafted songs.
Performance CreditsBest Coast Primary Artist
Jon Brion Bass,Percussion,Keyboards,12-string Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Bobb Bruno Bass,Guitar,Drums
Bethany Cosentino Guitar,Vocals
Technical CreditsJon Brion Producer
Greg Koller Engineer
Dan Schechter Art Direction
Bethany Cosentino Composer
Jess Rotter Illustrations
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Best Album Ever
Correction: In my previous review for Best Coast's "Crazy For You", I mentioned that Bobb Bruno has left the band. This was incorrect. He is still performing with Best Cosat. Sorry! Bethany Constantino loves California the way Billy Joel loves New York. It's in her soul and her blood. She sang about it in an adorably gnarly way with her last album with Best Coast, "Crazy For You". She sings about it yet again on "The Only Place". The title track has an earnest chorus: "Why would you live anywhere else?" And remember, this is at a time when California is going through one economic and political crisis after another. Yet, Bethany makes no apologies for her love of California and she makes her love, our love. "The Only Place" doesn't have the cavernous, Phil Spectorish sound of the previous album. However, it still has plenty of feedback, thanks mostly to multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno. The songs are also more yearning this time, particularly "How They Want Me To Be" and "Do You Love Me Like You Used To?". What's more, Bethany's vocals aren't quite as snarling as they were before. And most of these songs are catchy from the first moment you hear them. According to the liner notes of the album, Bethany has been taking cues from Tony Gilkyson, the fluid guitarist of the punk rock band X and from Lindsay Buckingham, the tremendously talented force behind Fleetwood Mac. Something tells me Best Coast is going to be around for a long time.