[30 July 2010]
PopMatters PopLocal Features Editor
If Best Coast’s Crazy for You was a concept album, the premise would be blissfully simple: a young woman, struggling with the aimlessness of work and home, searches for love in California. The idea is not unlike a younger, humbler, West Coast version of Sex and the City. And, like that renowned television series, Best Coast’s debut clicks with a diverse audience, one beyond what may initially appear to be its distinct appeal. I know at least a handful of people whose affinity for Crazy for You is unmitigated by disagreements of gender, lifestyle, or romantic disposition. I am myself among them.
Bethany Cosentino sings about passion and need. She is always the forsaken, never the forsaker, and she is confused but never apathetic. She is your typically carefree girl, hemmed in by the realities of commitment, involvement, and closure. Her favorite rhyme, fittingly, seems to be ‘crazy’ and ‘lazy’—it appears twice on the album, conspicuous in each instance. She sings on “When I’m with You”: “The world is lazy / But you and me / We’re just crazy”. Craziness is essential to her condition. It also comes upon her as a result of love: “You drive me crazy but I love you / You make me lazy but I love you”.
The rhyme has a childish quality, as do many of her lines. The two words seem inevitably to fit together; the long vowel, buzzing ‘z’, and happy, trailing ‘y’ line up so smartly as to seem synonymous. The words themselves are rudimentary, and their meanings obvious. Such simplicity makes her music feel more innocent and more blithe, and it makes her lyrics more relatable. Anyone can tap into the childish joy of words like “So when I’m with you / I have fun”. Despite the adult yearning of songs like “Goodbye”, the fundamental impulse which shines through is still to have fun, still to know only the most basic of comforts. She complains, “And nothing makes me happy / Not even TV or a bunch of weed”. She wants to talk to her cat, her mom.
She wants a boyfriend, she wants to sit with him and “Watch the sunrise / And gaze into each other’s eyes”, but what she really wants is to return to the simple pleasures of being a kid. The boy she wants—and he is always a “boy”—is one to love for the sake of loving, to be with for the sake of companionship. He could be anybody. And so could she. Crazy for You rolls out of the stereo so easily for a lot of reasons; there’s the catchy, well-crafted melodies, the familiar but somehow rejuvenated fuzz guitar, and Cosentino’s strong, clear voice, belting out the songs like a fifth grader in a choir. But above all what makes the album resonate so strongly with its audience is its naivete. For every one of us that spends Saturday afternoons with a joint in front of the TV, there are countless more who talk to our pets and daydream about our latest crushes. We’re all listening to Best Coast.