Music Reviews
Crazy for You

Best Coast Crazy for You

(Mexican Summer) Rating - 7/10

After many months of anticipation, the cards have finally been dealt for true California girl Bethany Cosentino. Building upon the buzz surrounding the Sun Was High (So Was I) 7’ inch, her Best Coast project with Bobb Bruno was meant to be just another stylistic, sun-baked pop record with intentionally scrappy production techniques and tainted melodic hooks. It was yet another redundant reflection of how the present decade has brought upon the reemergence of vinyl and cassette recording nostalgia. Really, the question became how to approach it with sincerity instead of how to change its direction. After a failed move from New York’s claustrophobic and immediate environment, Cosentino found the answer right under her nose: go back to her home state, borrow a little heart from her Californian musical ancestors, and dig up her past experiences. But, as lazy as she claims to be, not before watching some television.

Cosentino can’t be faulted because this kind of territory unveils her true disposition as an artist. It’s not meant to be smart, nor intellectual, just freely paced and spontaneous. Just like discovering a few bare chords, Crazy for You is rooted on delivering simple, infectious pop songs that cling together like a rope chain. These days, since the scenester commodity of what summer really means is wrapped around some harmonic vocals, raw guitar distortions, and a prerequisite to allure, it seems Best Coast has delightfully invited us to their beach party.

Crazy for You does make use of reverb-drenched guitars and girl group harmonies, but that’s only a fraction of the symbiotic mesh of influences present. It sacrifices some of the fuzz that’s been ever-present in many female pop acts; in fact, they downplay some of that energy to sound pleasantly content with strumming a la vintage pop. Other times, an appreciation for that catchy, hard edged rock that many 90’s major label bands shoveled is hinted upon. Honey and The End wouldn’t sound out of place in a post grunge mixtape, sandwiched between Throwing Muses’ Real Ramona period and The Breeders, but sounding much more streamlined than angular.

Even with a skim through Crazy for You’s speedy run time, it’s hard not to feel affection with Cosentino’s uncomplicated way of looking at the world. In mid-tempo strummer Crazy for You, her masochistic little heart duels between loving and hating her boyfriend. Regrettably, her twerpy personification seems to be infatuated with the no good, douche-looking surfer boy that sits in the back of the class, shaking his blond locks and glancing foolishly with his pearly white smile. Goodbye encapsulates this sickly obsession - Cosentino, coming off like a modest Courtney Love, nags about her constant preoccupations, such as the uncertainties of being stuck to dead end jobs, missing her mom, exposing her crazy cat lady self, and leaving her leisurely activities aside because she can’t bear having her love away. Other times, sadness is the focal point to her overbearing sentimentality. In the ironically bouncy track Happy, Cosentino sounds coke-induced, ecstatically channeling her frustrations to deter her logical thought process. 

Looking past the constant repetition of themes and recaps on how to make a versatile one-trick hook, Cosentino does have that one appealing quality that draws a distinction to other lower fidelity artists: her voice. It really is the true thriving force to these songs, having the same appeal to sweet sounding country artists like Loretta Lynn. Yet, she purposely flats out her pitch at times, sounding as if she were ashamed of it. Cosentino usually stresses her talking rhyming patterns to inject her own personal voice, graying those bright key tones to full effect. She has the gift of possessing a very attractive tonality, one she intentionally scars so it doesn’t come off as ostentatious.

Crazy for You just about sounds tailor-made for the trendy, savvy youth; those who buy their records in the vinyl section of an Urban Outfitters next to a sale rack full of bow dresses and damaged sandals. But then again, this is only a consequence of the fame Cosentino has unintentionally acquired by just being an everyday all-American girl. Her indie pin-up look is far too tempting to market because she fits the profile by being cute, slightly inarticulate, and always willing to express an opinion. Ignoring that consumerist stance, what makes Crazy for You such a good first shot is simply how she nails an approachable (and replayable) listening experience. Cosentino may not carry such complex songwriting chops, but she’s smart enough to recognize that the formula she’s working with is timeless.