Best Coast’s The Only Place kicked off summer 2012 back in May, proving that the California twosome’s early success wasn’t just a fluke. Their first album, Crazy for You received positive acclaim and was named Best New Music by Pitchfork Magazine in 2010. Reaching back for the beach rock aesthetic of the 1950s and 1960s, Bethany Cosentino’s voice and Bobb Bruno’s instrumentation sound like the Supremes recorded an album on the sandy beaches of California.
The Only Place opens up with its eponymous single, a love song to California. The band’s commitment to their home state has appeared on both of their album covers, and referenced in their name. “The Only Place” is an up-tempo anthem that has Cosentino crooning “this is the only place for me”.
Many bands go to significant lengths to appear opaque in their music; to be singing about other people or situations in order to protect their personal life. However, Best Coast’s simple summer jams seem to be torn from the pages of Cosentino’s diary; from her love of California to her relationship with the lead singer of fellow California surf rockers Wavves.
After kick-starting the album with its fun single, The Only Place starts to get more serious and weary. Much like a trip to the beach, the initial gusto of the warm weather, soft sand and tides becomes a tired walk back to the car. From sun tanning and cocktails to sunburn and broken hearts, this is a moody album. Tracks like “Why I Cry” and “Last Year” show a tired and dreary disposition with lyrics like, “what a day this year has been, what a year this day has been”. Much like their last album, there is fun in the sun, and there is heartbreak.
Though Best Coast’s lead singer/songwriter Cosentino is presumably in her 20s, the emotional honesty of the latter half of The Only Place says a lot about the bridge from adolescence to adulthood. Balancing romantic interests, career and peer pressures as well as wanting to be a “better girl”, The Only Place is an honest place for Cosentino as her lyrics are confessional without feeling weak as she dissects her relationship track by track.