Bethany Cosentino, until recently, was part of an obscure California-based psychedelia outift called Pocahaunted. Although to some extent they rose to popularity, it’s incomparable to the success Cosentino has already achieved under the more streamlined pop direction of Best Coast in the space of just over a year.
And when you compare the two acts, you’d never guess that one led to the other. Best Coast, as a live outfit, consist of two members of Pocahaunted and one Vivian Girl. That’s not a great deal of difference. So what inspired Cosentino to swap her drone rock for infectious lo-fi punk? One guess would be that it’s all because of boys.
In a recent interview she said: “The reason why I think my lyrics are so straightforward – and a lot of my songs are about guys or situations with guys – is because I have a tendency to not say that stuff in real life.” Indeed, Crazy For You begins and ends as a girl-wants-boy drama, its components being some of the most direct, attention-seeking songs you’re ever likely to come across.
Boyfriend commences proceedings in the most suitable of circumstances; it’s a song of desire, of feeling caught up in an indeterminably-long stage of aching for someone. The opener precedes a mix-match of emotions, sorted between Costenino’s compliments (“I just want to tell you, that I’ve always loved you”) to her apparent frustration and heartbreak (“When you leave, you take all my money, you take all my weed”) right onto confusion and despair (“I don’t even know why I care as much as I do, I just want for you to tell me, is this real or are we through?”).
But what’s remarkable – and surprising – about Crazy For You is its versatility. Cosentino emerged last year as a drug-friendly TV junkie who happened to write good songs. Here, her evident love affair with ’60s pop and DIY rock intertwine, and out comes an album that adjusts its pace, energy and attitude at a whim, but never fails to entertain. Our Deal is a grandiose, ’50s ballroom swinger whereas Happy is an obnoxious, ill-mannered, modern punk gem. And all throughout, there isn’t a single song that feels out of place and uninvited.
Not only is this an album displaying its obsession with a certain male, it’s equally unafraid to declare its devotion to the city of Los Angeles. The sunrise, pine tree and gentle waves that appear on the album cover not only characterise the content of the record, but also the state of California. The cat that graces the front has its backside cut out in the shape of the state. These are carefree, sunny songs that embody the spirit of an altogether charming part of America.
California, and the ongoing boy troubles, have had their effect on Cosentino. And behold, here arrives the first “star” from a productive lo-fi music scene. That’s because she’s the first out of the bunch of heavily-blogged artists to display her personality, to prove to the world that she’s got something to say. And boy has she said it. All of this achievement is encompassed in album closer When I’m With You; a drop-dead terrific twentysomething anthem. Simple but impossible not to adore: that’s Best Coast.