Best Coast’s debut album features just one of the singles that gained Bethany Cosentino – and, lately, live bandmate/producer Bobb Bruno – plenty of blog hype over the last year and a bit (‘When I’m With You’ is tucked away at the end as a bonus track). This is a little unfortunate since the twelve other songs that made the cut boast a smoothed-out sound that jettisons some of the fuzzy lo-fi charm that shimmered in those early recordings, and including one or two extra may have helped to bridge the transition towards Crazy For You‘s tweaked and tidied production. Best Coast’s place in the Vivian Girls / Frankie Rose / Dum Dum Girls orbit is nevertheless assured, and it’s miles away from the experimental psych-noise of Cosentino’s stint in Pocahaunted, but if the current slew of ’60s garage-rock and surf-punk enthusiasts were lined up on a long beach, Crazy For You puts this likable duo at the poppiest end of the golden-sand stretch.
Consentino and Bruno have worked up a formula for pleasing, if repetitive, results and stick doggedly to it; reverb-laden chords and clap-along drum signatures bop throughout, forming pop-tinted melodies glazed by Consentino’s maraschino cherry-sweet vocals. As the Love Heart-candy platitude of the title suggests, Crazy For You radiates with infatuation. The hum-along first single ‘Boyfriend’ is indicative of the album as a whole; crushes, breakups and summer sun sentiments fill the songs of Crazy For You with the kind of teen-holiday yearning that ranges from heart-thudding need on ‘I Want To’ and lonesome pining on ‘Bratty B’ to a lazy haze of sunbathed contentment on ‘Our Deal’.
The boy-crazy sheen can be cloying at times, since it makes up the bulk of the album, and though there are some humorous touches – Cosentino wishing her cover-star cat could talk on ‘Goodbye’ gets a chuckle – it’s largely one big adolescent fest, like milkshake that’s just a little heavy on the syrup. The usual surf-fi nymph reverb ghosts Consentino’s vocals, but the sugary, almost bratty style she favours is emphatic and leans more towards the teeny-bop girl-group flavour of The Shirelles than the edgier, Ramones-inspired punk kilter of the Vivian Girls, and the processed pop sheen ultimately overshadows Cosentino’s famed DIY stoner-glamour.
Still, Crazy For You is charming, catchy and neatly delivered. The California warmth that Consentino channels into these songs gives them a tangible foothold, but the two-dimensional summer romance fixation becomes a little monotonous toward the end. If Best Coast had injected something a little more individual into their dreamy July love letter, the result would have packed a little more punch. Crazy For You ultimately comes across as a little too safe to be a true classic, but if you’re after some popsickle-sweet, beach-blanket anthems, you couldn’t do better than this.
[Wichita Recordings; August 2, 2010]