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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CD Review: Best Coast - 'Crazy For You'

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Cosentino's cat, Snacks, graces the cover of Crazy For You, Best Coast's debut album.
  • Cosentino's cat, Snacks, graces the cover of Crazy For You, Best Coast's debut album.

​If the onslaught hasn't already started, expect to be hearing a lot about Best Coast in the coming months. Bethany Cosentino (formerly of Los Angeles tribal-psych outfit Pocahaunted, who are playing tonight at the Rickshaw Stop) has put together a pretty irresistible half-hour of deadpan heartache, all chirping and cooing and girl-group harmonies thickly dusted in grunge-era fuzz, from the ballet-flat-gazing opener "Boyfriend" down to the sunny bonus cut "When I'm With You." Most of us love it; some of us aren't convinced; some of us only have eyes for Snacks (Cosentino's cat) -- but you can be sure Crazy For You will be around for the rest of the summer, at least.

Fans of last season's crop of lovelorn girls -- VivianDum Dum and, uh, boy -- will note the efficiency with which Cosentino and bandmate Bobb Bruno streamline verse, chorus, and bridge without ever sacrificing the feeling of a complete song; the longest track, the swampily sultry "Honey," just barely breaks the three-minute mark. Consider the way "The End" trades a choral coo for an extra layer of distortion without batting an eyelash, or try to come up with something the propulsive "Bratty B" fails to accomplish in its minute and 43 seconds.

Look for the lyrics to paint you a deeper picture, though, and you come up short. Cosentino -- at least as Best Coast -- is such a staunch practitioner of the "tell, don't show" approach that what might be most remarkable about Crazy For You is its complete lack of metaphor, its way of treating the lover's lament (or, more aptly, the just-a-friend's lament) just as coolly and by-the-numbers as any other pop song. You can complete about 90% of the rhymes before she does, and the other ten are leftfield shots. "Even though you are my guy, I always freak when I get high," she cheeps on the title track: "I'm always crazy when I miss you, I'm always lazy when I miss you." Your first instinct might not be to admire that line for its directness, but what more really needs to be said?

That is, finally, what makes Crazy For You both exciting and unnerving: for an album whose songs are all about the same thing, it's awfully unsentimental about its own sentimentality. It's hard to imagine Cosentino sitting down with a guitar to write a Best Coast song, but it's easy to imagine her hitting you up with a text or a tweet to swoon or to kvetch, depending on the day. Hers are torch songs rendered with the bare-minimum expressiveness of an IM conversation -- think of the cat on the cover as a sort of emoticon -- and they still work great. How much of that is because we don't have the need, or the patience, for anything more thorough? From start to finish, Crazy For You is the kind of sincerity that could just as easily be irony. It may be an early lesson about not sweating the difference: if it's simplistic or reductive or empty in some sense, it's only as much so as the e-book is compared to its dense, long-winded and potentially obsolete counterpart.

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Daniel Levin Becker


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