Monday, 7 October 2013

Best Coast - Fade Away EP

Bethany Cosentino has on obsession with the west that has descended in to a hidden indie rivalry, secretly shouting: 'fuck you, east coast, we're west coast bitch'. The cover of Best Coast's Fade Away EP looks to be a response to Vampire Weekend's album cover for Modern Vampires of the City. Where Vampire Weekend has crafted a glorious album by singing about their city, their love, Best Coast has been known to do otherwise. The band’s debut album Crazy For You featured the essence of a Californian sound, but with the lovey dovey teenage angst of a Vaselines’ album. There were no city appreciations or restaurant references like with Vampire Weekend, just forgotten love songs built in to 13 tracks of fuzzy indie rock. This all changed with Best Coast's sophomore album The Only Place. They finally sang about their city, their love; but it wasn't delivering the goods of their debut album. The self-titled track is Cosentino's ode to Los Angeles, and it would fit a compilation video of GTA V fairly well. It felt as if Best Coast's music was strangely easy. The talent of Cosentino and her main collaborator Bobb Bruno was hidden, waiting to be found. After the rather exciting distortion heavy Crazy For You, Best Coast decided to tone it down and create even soppier melodies for their sophomore. It didn’t pay off, and was one of the most disappointing albums of 2012 because of it. Cosentino clearly had an idea of what she wanted The Only Place to sound like, but I and the 2010 listeners of Crazy For You never expected it to sound like Crazy For You without any distortion or experiments. 

The Only Place was a predictable follow-up. The four chord barre chord progression was utilised by Best Coast throughout Crazy For You, but not in its entirety like in The Only Place. 70% of the criticism directed at Best Coast's sophomore involves Cosentino's use of predictable barre chords. There's no window of opportunity, or variety of progressions on their sophomore. It completely shook up how Best Coast are perceived - a simple band that play simple indie rock music.

It sounds like Best Coats have listened to their critics on Fade Away. On the opening track "This Lonely Morning", they instantly introduce signs of distortion and noise, awakening the Crazy For You fans out of the daze that was The Only Place. It fails to last however, as Best Coast tread through the same barre chord progression as 80% of The Only Place. There’s a few more focusses rather than the bland progression, such as the short guitar solo and Cosentino's vocal refrain of the track title, but overall - back to basics, back to The Only Place. Within the first eight seconds of "I Wanna Know", the listener can suss out what it's going to sound like. Best Coast are now the most predictable indie rock band in existence. It's a feat they don't want, but continually emphasise with their guitar progressions and simple percussion accompaniment. There's nothing Cosentino can do to stop me from panning these tracks... "I Wanna Know" is weaker than most of the tracks on The Only Place. "Who Have I Become" follows with another simple progression, with punk aesthetics instead of the light breeze found on the opening track. 

"Fear of My Identity" was released as a single back in April for Record Store Day. It acts as the centrefold, marking the change from the three lacklustre opening tracks, and the two interesting and worthwhile latter tracks. I've ignored the self-titled track, because it's poor. It comes across as soft rock in the first half, and then Coldplay inspired 'stadium rock' in the latter. None of it lives up to Crazy For You, except "Fear of My Identity", which actually reaches levels of excitement unheard of on recent Best Coast releases. This is amassed by "Baby I'm Crying", featuring an acoustic guitar reverberated slide guitar. The bass guitar swallows Cosentino's guitar with its sheer volume. Unfortunately, its progression is parallel to most barre chord progressions on The Only Place and even some on Fade Away.

Acting as a seven track break between albums, Fade Away successfully blends influences from both Best Coast albums, but fails to adapt a new sound or a new concept other than the 'end of summer, hello autumn' feel this EP tends to proclaim, such as the finale track "I Don't Know How". it's a pretty standard Best Coast track, but one I’d happily return to, along with a few others on this EP. Cosentino's vocal refrain towards the end is a particular highlight: "You see me everywhere, you walk around without a care," This track, alike many on Fade Away, lean too much on the past. Best Coast are very predictable and simple. Once you've heard them once, you kind of get the gist of their recordings. There's nothing too special about them other than Cosentino's quirky style and preachy female angst that's been carried ever since album one, track one - "Boyfriend".  These seven tracks are bearable, an improvement on last years The Only Place. It's reversed the bland direction their sophomore album descended upon. Fade Away's not the answer Best Coast have been looking for, it's just a seven track EP of their typical songs. But hey, it's decent enough to listen post-summer, and that's something Best Coast have been working on. Getting out of the novelty and working around their obsession with four chord barre progressions.


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