You would think that working with Jon Brion would bring out the best in a band. Considering, his impressive roster of people he has worked with and made seminal, respected albums – Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann being only the tip of the iceberg. So when Californian duo Best Coast announced that they were working with the famed producer it seemed like a natural progression and could be interesting to step away from the fuzzy, sun drenched sound of their critically acclaimed debut “Crazy for You” and could actually work.
With the release of their second effort the bulk of the material lacks the energy of their first, the reverb and distortion is gone instead a cleaner more sterile sound. While frontwoman Bethany Consentino doesn’t really change up her song writing here, which mostly consists on singing about her love for her home state of California and her boy crazy escapades, it doesn’t come across as genuine as it did on “Crazy for You”.
It’s as if these songs were made as demo’s for other artists to sing. The whole album isn’t a complete disappointment though. The first single and title track “The Only Place” an ode to California is as happy-go-lucky you can be, with it’s sun-drenched girl group sound it’s a near-perfect beach song. “Dreaming Your Life Away” is another highlight that has a dreamy sound that does actually sound like an Aimee Mann song, sonically – Magnolia era.
Maybe it was recording in a professional studio that stunted their music potential, or maybe it was working with a super producer that they felt they had to fit into his sound box, in any case it’s nice to hear the band back making music, hopefully these songs won’t be as flaccid live, peppered in between tracks from “Crazy For You” it might work better, but on record – no so much.
Listen if you like: The Beach Boys, The Ronettes (or any 60s girl group, really), Best Coast’ earlier stuff