Bethany Cosentino (one half of the California surf pop duo Best Coast) has steadily increased her public profile in recent years. Besides gracing the cover of the most recent issue of SPIN (along with a Nathan Williams of the rock group Wavves, who doubles as her boyfriend), Cosentino's throwback '60s girl group sound, mixed with dreamy, soothing harmonies and the music to match it, has earned her group a number of high profile festival appearances (Coachella, SXSW) and fans. They include her idol Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley, Postal Service) and star actress Drew Barrymore, who directed the video to one of Best Coast's top tunes, "Our Deal" (from debut 2010 album Crazy for You).
For second album The Only Place (out now on Mexican Summer), Cosentino and mult-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno (guitar, bass, drums), enlisted veteran Jon Brion to produce the record. The results see the overall sound more natural-sounding and polished, with less reliance on reverb-soaked vocals and distorted guitars, and more focus on getting the most out of the group's lush guitar-based melodies and of course, Cosentino's gorgeous vocals. Gone too is the lo-fi production that was endearing for some of Crazy for You.
Still, the sunny Cali pop hooks fans loved on Best Coast's first album—and on other EPs featuring standout songs such as "Sunny Adventure"—are present all over the new record. That includes the title track, which happens to be the album's first cut and single. The bright, arpeggiated chords Bruno plays on his guitar once the band comes in immediately draws you in and lets your ears know they're in for more of ear candy you've come to know and love from this group. The rest of the song is full of power pop chords courtesy of Cosentino and lyrics that act as a tourism ad for her popular home state: "We've got the ocean/Got the babes/Got the sun/We've got the waves." In other words, it's a promising start.
Next track "Why I Cry" keeps the energy up but suffers from originality, as it sounds too similar to the title track for much of its duration—about 2:20. Elsewhere, "Let's Go Home" comes out swinging with its easy, breezy post-punk energy, only to be harmed by a rather weak bridge section.