Best Coast – California Nights Review

California’s finest lo-fi rockers have certainly cemented a reputation as such with their sweet lyrics and sweeter melodies channelled through that rough edged instrumentation. Whilst they have worked it well and done it better than anyone else, their third studio album surely had to herald a new direction or different perspective to some aspect of their music. Now that they’re on a major label, it only hammers that point home and with that extra power beyond them, some change is natural. Willy Gagel is producing, like he did for the band’s Fade Away EP from 2013 and he certainly offered up something new in terms of production. Will it remain with California Nights?

The title track is a song that has a completely spaced out riff and is minimalistic instrumentally on the whole with simple drum sections and light, solid riffs that carve a path through the subtle, yet vast expanses of the song. Nothing more is needed on the instrumental front due to the sweeping and far reaching vocals from Beth Cosentino who delivers almost a haunting vocal that extends just as far as the instrumental expanses. Even though her vocal ability is well known it’s a revelation in this track that is accentuated by the slight echo put upon it. ‘California Nights’ signals a more mature and considered approach from an already solid group as they begin to flex their creative muscles. ‘Heaven Sent’ is by no means the expansive and open track that the title track is. It is more akin to their traditional sound of rapid and upbeat surfer-rock with the thrashy guitars and the short, sharp percussion that’s swept against the melodic and wide ranging vocals of Beth Cosentino that adds that bit of fluidity to the track. In many ways however, it is channelled through the more open and spacious production, but naturally has that immediacy that Best Coast are famed for.

Much like ‘Heaven Sent’, ‘Feeling Ok’ sees them drift more into their comfort zone whilst maintaining some of the subtle stylistic and production alterations that were found in the title track. The light cascading lead riffs encased around a churning rhythm is something of a common trait with a lot of Best Coast tracks, but in this case the song’s structure is a little more broken up which allows for greater vocal sweeps from Beth Cosentino with her slick and smooth melodic quality. Certain parts of the production are again more faded and drawn out which adds to instrumental value, but it’s easily a song that long-time fans will enjoy. A simple piece of Rock-Pop. ‘Fine Without You’ is another song of familiarity in terms of it’s pace and basic instrumentation, but it’s delivered with a sharper abrasiveness from the guitars and Beth’s vocals. It does sound quite dated but it’s still a decent track with it’s hooks. ‘In My Eyes’ delivers their trademark pop quality standard through more scuzzy guitars and near perfect vocal harmonies. ‘When Will I Change’ offers up a more kicked back approach with heaver bass lines pulling the rest of the instrumentation with it and a more base vocal from Beth. ‘Fading Fast’ has the tumbling percussion of many a Smiths track that’s made smooth by the vocals yet again. There aren’t enough tracks like ‘Wasted Time’ on the album. That thunderous, yet subtle percussion and the indefinite meandering of the faded riffs and wispy synth chords meet beautifully with Best Cosentino’s silken and faded vocals. It’s an album full of varying rock pop variations that work well, but at times are too familiar. The new production methods are effective throughout, though and when combined with the new approaches of the singles and ‘Wasted Time’, it sounds like something off a top rate album.

Best Coast – California Nights = 7/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

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