Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: The Stoned Romanticism of Best Coast

Douglas Martin is threatened by the possibility of Snacks the Cat replacing him as the most eligible bachelor on Tumblr. “Each and every day, I feel like I’m losing my mind,“ sings Best Coast...
By    July 23, 2010


Douglas Martin is threatened by the possibility of Snacks the Cat replacing him as the most eligible bachelor on Tumblr.

“Each and every day, I feel like I’m losing my mind,“ sings Best Coast frontwoman Bethany Cosentino on the closing track of debut record Crazy for You. In a recent interview, Cosentino named Drake as her favorite rapper, which is weirdly appropriate, given their similarities. Both artists share a knack for simplistic-but-infectious melodies, are both breakout stars in their respective genres, and– in spite of their success– neither can shake the lingering effects of heartbreak long enough for it to not be the primary theme in their songs.

Best Coast and Drake are musically similar not in terms of aesthetic, but in regard to musical cohesion and lack of complicated instrumental depth. Cosentino seems very much indebted to the girl group records she’s unabashedly inspired by, not only by the lovelorn lyrics which echo those particular groups, but also in Lewis Pesacov’s production, which carries a vintage tint which only bolsters the album’s nostalgic feel (which is heightened by the girl group homage at the end of closer “Each & Everyday”). One of the record’s greatest attributes is the fact that it doesn’t sound like a record made in 2010, that it could have been plucked from either the early-60’s or the late-80’s, and not a single listener would be too far off for mistakenly believing this record came from either of those eras. Considering that the album’s musical simplicity matches that of the lyrical themes, there’s more than meets the eye.

There is a deep undercurrent of longing on Crazy for You that flows through the record from the beginning, where Cosentino compulsively sits around and waits by the phone for a guy friend who will probably never call. “Last night, I went out with this guy,” she sings on “The End,” “He was nice, he was nice and cute, but he wasn’t you.” In a lot of ways, Cosentino is a teen idol for the Tumblr generation, a boy-crazy post-adolescent who loves smoking pot, wishes her cat (certified internet celebrity Snacks the Cat) could talk, and spends her days and nights consumed with romantic obsession. Aside from a small handful of lyrical clunkers (rhyming “crazy” with “lazy” in both the title-track and the bonus track, last year’s blog smash “When I’m With You”), Cosentino articulates her fixation on companionship. Although a great deal of the lyrics come from unrequited love, there are details where there is a struggle to make things perfect for her object of affection in her songs. On “Bratty B”, she apologizes for losing her man’s favorite shirt and, as an implied plea to get him to stay, promises to buy him “a new one, a better one”.

The effects of desire get downright dark on “Honey”, where, over a minor-key chord progression that sounds like it was lifted from the glory days of alternative rock, Cosentino is chomping at the bit to be a part of her intended target’s life every minute of every day, which evokes the feel of staying up until two in the morning writing a crush a letter and then slipping it into their locker the next day at school. Nostalgia creeps its way into some of the songs as well, with multiple allusions to the summer, being seventeen, and wanting to go back in time to “the first time, the first place”. It’s evident a lot of Best Coast’s listeners are experiencing a lot of firsts with Crazy for You as their soundtrack. And, in spite of the lyrical themes of the record being compelling portraits of romantic obsession for people who read between the lines, there are a lot of little girls (and boys) that will be singing into their hairbrushes to Bethany Cosentino’s relatable themes of unrequited love, making Crazy for You indie-rock’s greatest teen-pop record in quite a long time. Sure, such a thing would be widely considered as “uncool”, but it doesn’t stop the record from still being an immersive, addictive listen.

MP3: Best Coast-“Boyfriend”

MP3: Best Coast – “Sun Was High (So Was I)”
MP3: Best Coast – “When I’m With You”

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