Sophomore record. Sophomore slump. That dreaded chapter in a band’s story that can make or break a career. In numerous interviews outlining the journey to recording new material, Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino promised the upcoming record would bring her vocals to the forefront and show maturity of the band. Another key detail was the producer of said new album – Jon Brion, who has notably produced music by Fiona Apple and Kayne West, among others.
The Only Place does not fail to deliver those promised vocals – gone is the disaffected lo-fi singing style, buried beneath guitar fuzz and reverb. Instead, Cosentino’s buttery smooth pipes ring out loud and clear – especially on the 60’s style torch song “No One Like You.” There’s no mistake here – the girl can definitely sing. But in the clarity of sound, that certain lazy, effortless charm is missing. However, this change is still evolution and one can’t necessarily fault a band for wanting something new.
With Crazy For You and prior EPs and singles, Best Coast’s songs focused famously on boys, heartbreak, weed and sometimes cats. The topics were playful, adolescent and lent to the undeniable charm of the California band. This time around, The Only Place is moodier and darker, but still with a sliver of summer sunshine glimmering through. No need to worry that Best Coast have done a complete 180-degree transformation: the peppy upbeat title track is all about how California is “the only place for me.” Equally catchy is its California-loving counterpart “Let’s Go Home.” The gem of The Only Place is “Up All Night” – a re-recorded song from a 7” split from 2009, this haunting album closer personifies the yearn of a former faraway love.