California has long established itself as a breeding ground for numerous musical groups, including punk legends like Green Day, Sublime and The Offspring. The ‘90s were over a while ago, but that is not to say that punk has become a genre of the past.
In the late 2000s, we saw the rise of Best Coast, made up of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno. The duo hails from Los Angeles, and with plenty of Internet buzz, they achieved mainstream success in 2010 with their debut album, “Crazy for You.” Between touring and making festival appearances, they somehow found time to record and release their third studio album, “California Nights.”
“Feeling OK” is the first track on the album. It sounds sunny, like California, and has lyrics such as “My doctor says that I should take it/ At least I won’t have to keep faking” and “I know it’s love that’s got me feeling OK.”
The song seems inspired by Cosentino’s personal life. She briefly attended college in New York City, but became disenchanted with the East Coast’s frigid weather, and dropped out of school to return to California, writing music with Bruno to manage her anxiety. The song neatly lays the groundwork for the rest of the album.
Up next is “Fine Without You.” Cosentino’s vocals sound similar to those of Hayley Williams and the song sounds like a less energetic version of Paramore’s 2007 single, “Misery Business.” Nonetheless, Cosentino performs the song with leftover high school angst and it works.
On the songs “Heaven Sent” and “When Will I Change,” both of which are in the style of skate punk, Best Coast is channeling Blink-182, one of the duo’s major influences. The two tracks are some of the strongest on “California Nights.” The fast pace of both tracks is a refreshing change compared to the rest of the album.
“In My Eyes” and “So Unaware” are the album’s weaker points. Both songs seem as if they were written because the duo did not know what else to include on the album. The lyrics are not that introspective and the tracks are marred by boring music.
On the other hand, “Jealousy” is easily the best song on the set list. The hook contains the line “Why don’t you like me?” I am certain many of us have asked an oblivious crush that same question at one point or another. Plus, Cosentino kills it with her vocals and Bruno’s instrumentals are on point.
The album’s title track also deserves some recognition. Again, the vocals complement the music perfectly, and the song gives off this beach-y vibe, practically the embodiment of the Golden State.
Driving down Pacific Coast Highway while blasting this song at full volume? It cannot get more Californian than that.
“Fading Fast,” however, feels out of place on the album. It is a sore thumb. The song is upbeat and catchy, but with its country feel, it is just not right for the overall tone the album otherwise conveys.
“Run Through My Head” and “Sleep Won’t Ever Come” are a little more percussion-heavy than the other tracks, placing them among the highlights of the album. The songs are a nice departure from the tracks that rely heavily on guitar riffs.
“California Nights” comes to a close with “Wasted Time.” It has an ethereal feel to it, with its slow pace and Cosentino’s melodic singing, and it totally sounds like a closing track, almost like an outro.
Best Coast has come a long way since their pre-fame days. Hopefully, the duo continues to make music with a West Coast ambiance.
RECOMMENDED: Best Coast’s new album, a blend of punk rock and indie pop, gives off bright and sunny Californian tones.