Face it, buzz bands come and go, lost in the waves like loose sandals or expensive sunglasses. Every year there’s a whole gallery of ’em. Trios and quartets that all seem promising simply because the unholy “word” says so. But, as we all know, this just isn’t true. Most of the time they amount to nothing; just some writer’s flashy text and backlogged online chatter. Best case scenario: An act issues a hot single, followed by months of sold-out shows, and naturally… the debut album. This is where the road splits, the “real” journey begins, Robert Frost references, yada, yada, yada. Either the debut yanks everyone’s jaws to the floor (extremely rare), or it’s fluff that the online community will “love” or downright ignore. The former buys the band some time, the latter leads to a stale path of sub-par festival slots and opening gigs for acts that were in their position only a year before. Hey, nobody said the music industry was pretty – even if it’s less an industry and more an avenue of complete and utter bullshit. Digressions aside, there are always exceptions.
Meet Bethany Cosentino.
Last year, Cosentino and her California outfit Best Coast broke waves (pun intended) with the uber trendy single, “When I’m With You”. What sounded like a beautiful amalgamation of Hole and Beach House, the single proved to be a hot commodity in the online community. What the hell was this? How could the former Pocahaunted collaborator actually write delectable alt pop? How could two minutes and 58 seconds sound so moving? In sum, the tune went over like candy and a rabid, salivating 11-year-old, who’s been deprived of all his Halloween goodies from the night before. Sexy, candid, and warming, “When I’m With You” made Best Coast a household name in every alt couple’s one bedroom flat.
But after months and months of digital EPs and more free downloadable tracks than memory can keep track of (and yet not one disappoints – even the Converse mash up with Kid Kudi and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij that only seemed destined for failure) one has to ask: What about the debut album?
Crazy For You shares similar traits to Vampire Weekend’s self-titled 2008 debut. It’s musically and lyrically cohesive; fully realized in both scope and reach. Cosentino knows exactly what she wants to talk about and how she wants to discuss it. Working with summery beach bop beats and wavy vocals, most of the tunes mirror one another, but there’s so much charm oozing out of every three minute tune that you can’t help but imagine she’s this wild girl with one hell of an imagination. One who’s holed up in her room, deciding to write her thoughts through the guitar than on a diary with a locket. This girl also happens to have quite the noggin for music, too.
On “Goodbye”, Cosentino lightly sings this ’60s-esque chorus (“Everytime you leave this house, everything falls apart”) that leads to an aggressive bridge (“You’re the worst at goodbyes”) that sounds like it could have been written by Kurt Cobain. Crossovers like this make this album such a delight. You can never tell where she’s going next. Sometimes it’s just a straight up throwback, as is the case with “Our Deal”, which sounds like a take on The Ronnettes or Diana Ross. Other instances it’s modern indie rock like the driving lo-fi cruiser “When The Sun Don’t Shine”, where Cosentino croons like an edgier Deschanel; in other words, a girl that seems approachable, rather than the girl you shy away from. The one you’d rather spend hours at a diner with, ideally.
But that’s the true appeal of Best Coast. The music is simple, but so stellar in the rarest way. Cosentino isn’t a diva, she never will be, but her vocals strike you with the same power, only hitting different nerves. Whereas you sit back and marvel at someone like Aretha Franklin, you would never go home with her voice lingering around your head, save for maybe the melody. With Cosentino, her voice is so haunting, personal, and low key that you can’t help but dwell on it for awhile. In other words, it’s less about the sight and more about the mood. Anyone else could have sung over the jaunty percussion of “Happy” and it would be nothing more than a light drive in line with Herman’s Hermits. But the way Cosentino delivers such lyrical simplicity like “I’ll think about you all night long, you’re the one for me” makes it something else. It’s personal, but afflicted. It feels organic. It’s as if she’s really aiming for this one person’s heart and not the radio, which, realistically, is what her influences would have set their sights on. Maybe that’s the difference.
Whatever the case, Crazy for You delightfully munches on your ear, raising all those frisky hairs on the back of your neck. Over 12 tracks, Cosentino’s strung together worthy successors for the half a dozen singles she’s already issued this year alone. And no, the topic never changes. Never. In fact, you could argue that she uses the same lyrics again and again, but look at the album’s title for Christ’s sake. Chalk it up to a concept, but Cosentino makes no case for us to assume she has anything else on her mind but heartbreak and love. And for that, she succeeds with dazzling (and dizzying) results. She doesn’t bleed so much as she moans and whimpers or cries and calls. Most of the time, you’d consider that nagging, but oddly enough, you’ll want to listen to it more and more and again and again. Maybe we’re just crazy for her.
Ha, good luck getting your jaw off the ground.