Last year The L.A.Times posted a bulletin listing Buzz Bands’ Top 10 L.A. Albums of 2007, which highlighted indie acts such as Rilo Kiley, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Sea Wolf. Nestled at the number four spot above Rilo and BRMC, was the little pop engine that could: the Coco B’s. With their self-titled debut, the Coco B’s’ main strength is in good old fashioned pop music and they succeed in pumping out bright melodies with driving drums and cymbals. Obviously confident in their genre, the problems in Coco B’s is not in their up tempo carefree persona, but more in the lack of dynamics and originality outside of the one-dimensional pop charm.
Now obviously the Coco B’s are from Los Angeles, and if the aforementioned list did not tip you off, then one of their best tracks, “I Live in LA”, would have been the dead give-away. There is something very lighthearted about this album, an appealing young ambiance that makes the listen easy with a “no strings attached” vibe. The album opens with Modern Lover, a track that sounds like the musical equivalent to the last day of school, when the minute hand high fives the hour hand. Imagine the movie clip: the opening drums and creeping guitar line parallel the wallflower slow-motion breaking away from his desk. And with the Coco B’s bottomless supply of “oh’s” or “yoohoo’s” or “whoos” or whatever it is they’re crooning, that’s the part where it breaks into real time and doors are kicked open and algebra homework floats above the chaos.
And that’s the best way to describe this album, as a youthful summertime compilation. With only two slow tracks and one being a brief instrumental closing to the debut, the album is full of bubble gum guitar distortion, tambourines, and hand claps. The opening track sets up the following melodies well, but as the album continues it becomes hard to distinguish which track was what. “Daytrader” and “I Live in LA” are the most successful along with the opener, but the remaining chunk blend together and lack variation within their structure. Each track is good, yet the songs’ individual identities are lost in a sea of mediocrity where levels are lacking and the same musical tricks become predictable.
Overall, the pop attitude is good for upbeat charm, and the Coco B’s are very comfortable, if not a little too comfortable, in this dimension. The debut closes with a soft electro track titled “Sunset City of Dub” and although it may not make much sense in the grand scheme of the album, it does give a nice close—a fitting ending to nine previous tracks that sounded like they had been in the sun playing all day, and are now driving home with post-sunburn speed. This is where the band gains momentum, in their natural sense of knowing what melodies will make the listener want to get out of the house and drive. Yet, it loses its own energy way too quickly and becomes tedious and the tracks become unrecognizable. Coco B’s is a good listen, but falls victim to this “good” review because there is nothing on this album that listeners have not heard before and it stays safe by not lingering above or below an average ranking.
// Notes from the Road
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