[11 November 2013]
With two albums and a few EPs under their belt, Best Coast has settled into their artistic identity. The project of vocalist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist/drummer Bobb Bruno established a place among the top of the indie surf pop scene, a lane they played a major part in creating or at least in re-imagining. Cosentino’s melodically lethargic vocals fuse with the enervated lo-fi guitar drones to paint a vivid picture of a California summer. The sun-kissed, reverb-heavy melancholia was a summer soundtrack. It didn’t do anything extremely revolutionary or deep, the magic was in the album’s ability to capture a specific mood so effectively. You could put on Crazy for You in the middle of winter in and be transported back to July.
One of the biggest issues with Best Coast is their increasing reliance on the same formula. The seven-song EP in question is enthralled with attempting to recreate the aforementioned magic of Best Coast’s 2010 album, Crazy for You. It ends up being more of a regurgitation of what could be B-sides to the older album. Many times, fans complain that they want their favorite artist to go back to making the same music they used to make, but this is proof the problem with that way of thinking. If they’re always making the same album year after year, there’s never any room for growth and innovation. Especially if the original inspirational spark is no longer there.
Now, given that Best Coast has made some pretty good music in the past, it’s not exactly a terrible thing that Fade Away doesn’t stray too far from the successful recipe. Best Coast’s latest EP manages to capture many of the elements that made their previous works such a fun listen. The production still brings out a laid back West Coast vibe and Bethany, although repetitive in her lyrical subject matter, is an adept vocalist. It just doesn’t have anything interesting about it to give it the replayability that you would hope for.
Best Coast is definitely consistent. However Fade Away is largely uncreative and uninspired. There’s nothing on the EP that hasn’t already been done in a better way by one of their contemporaries or even on a previous album of their own. Fade Away gets the lo-fi indie pattern down, but it doesn’t feel genuine. There’s nothing unique or special about this record, and there isn’t even a standout track to come back to. It’s skippable to all but the biggest Best Coast fans. It may only be 27 minutes, but it still almost feels too long with how similar all of the songs sound. Best Coast unfortunately has slipped into a daze of becoming too comfortable with their sound. To quote a song from their first album, “I want to, go back to, the first time, the first place”.