A perfect summer album that sees Best Coast doing something new, whilst taking listeners back to the past.
California Nights is the third studio album from Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, better known as Best Coast. The Californian duo are known for their ’60s surf rock and girl group inspiration, with their sound developing at a wonderful place on the spectrum between rock, pop and indie. California Nights sees Best Coast developing a cleaner, more pop-centric vibe, creating an album fit for the summer with a warm sense of nostalgia running throughout.
‘Feeling Ok’ opens the album with a isolated catchy key riff, before being joined by a more full bodied sound with a rocky edge and Cosentino’s somewhat angelic vocals. It provides an optimistic start to the love story that is present throughout California Nights, swooning “I know it’s love that’s got me feeling ok.” ‘Fine Without You’ plunges listeners into one of the more indie feeling tracks of the album, with its lyrics promoting words of empowering advice for young lovers. There is something of a The Stone Roses – ‘Waterfall’ tribute in the opening of ‘Heaven Sent’, with its distinctive reverberating clangs – before it explodes into fast paced high school rock. The track embodies a great deal of the energy that is present throughout the whole album, and continues its nostalgic tone.
‘In My Eyes’ slows down the pace of the album a little, telling a clear story of its subject waking up and dealing with their love interest, somehow without going too Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s times like these where the album allows you to feel that you have stepped back into the past, creating a personal account of high school worries. ‘So Unaware’ continues the album’s narrative, detailing the downwards spiral of its love story – aided by the more understated and quieter vibe of the track. It questions in emphatic elongated vocals “What is life? What is love? What’s the meaning of it all?”- which I am sure we would all like the answers to. ‘When Will I Change’ opens with what sounds like a tribute to what would happen if Blondie’s ‘Sunday Girl’ met heavier guitars, a riff that continues throughout the angsty and frustrated track. Its strong guitar presence draws on Best Coast’s Led Zeppelin influences for the album, combining them with Cosentino’s ever-strong vocal presence.
The album’s title track builds from nothing but guitars and growing synths, until Cosentino soothes us with her vocals that carry the listener through the track. ‘California Nights’ makes you think of driving down an empty road at night in the summer, with its relaxed and intricate vibe setting it apart from other tracks. As the longest song on the album you really can lose yourself in the track, until it echoes out and you are plunged into the jaunty beginnings of ‘Fading Fast’. ‘Run Through My Head’ provides an exciting contrast to ‘Fading Fast’ from the beginning, featuring a more aggressive and loud use of the album’s instrumentation.
As we are brought towards the end of the night, and the end of California Nights, ‘Sleep Won’t Ever Come’ is followed by ‘Wasted Time’. Signalling the end of the album, ‘Wasted Time’ has a twilight feel about it, with soothing and soft chords at its opening. It’s definitely a lot slower than the rest of the album, but it is a gem at the end that is worth waiting for.
California Nights is fast-paced throughout and achieves great fluidity from track to track. The narrative seems a little teenage, but somehow it works – Best Coast have managed to do something new with their music, whilst at the same time taking a step back in time. Credit has to be given to the album’s beautiful artwork, too. With pastel hues and a rooftop pool, I think we will all want to be transported to a California night by this album from Best Coast.
If you’re interested to delve into the music that inspired California Nights, head over to Best Coast’s Spotify where they have neatly compiled a playlist that takes you through what lies at the heart of their album.
California Nights is out now via Harvest Records.