Best Coast Best CoastCrazy For You
At this stage of the game, everyone knows that Bethany Consentino, the woman at the helm of Best Coast, the biggest viral hype so far this year (and part of last year), has a cat named Snacks. Consentino had never had a cat before (she says that she has never been big on pets) and she can’t believe that Snacks is so clever. All of this, adopting Snacks (yes, before entering the Consentino family, Snacks was an alley cat) was one of the two things that Bethany did when she returned from her stay on the East Coast (she had rented an apartment in Brooklyn when she got tired of the traffic jams in her native Los Angeles). The other was to start a band called Best Coast. Because she realised that yes, New York might be the most, but Los Angeles doubles the bet. It’s a much better coast. That’s where the name of the band comes from. But where does she come from? Where does such a perfect, dirty pop song like “Boyfriend” come from? Well, let’s get ready for a little five-year trip. A trip to the past of the “it” girl.
Bethany Consentino started writing songs when she was still a kid. More or less around the time when she was obsessed with the Hanson brothers (oh yes, an embarrassing confession). A little later, when she turned 17, she set up a Myspace and uploaded part of the material. She used the name Bethany Sharayah and, as she herself says, it didn’t take long for her to get offers from record companies who wanted to turn her into a product for mass consumption (perhaps a new Amy Macdonald). Bethany responded to these offers with a resounding “not on your life.” She kept playing, and when she moved to New York, she formed a part of that mutant band called Pocahaunted and participated in the hypnagogic deconstruction that they have been practicing for awhile. Then she returned to Los Angeles, having missed the traffic jams and the whole Hollywood deal, as she herself has admitted; she joined forces with Bob Bruno and started to record songs that sound like the wild side of Martha & the Vandellas. In a year, Bruno and Consentino intoxicated the Internet with a handful of numbered copies of their singles (they put out three 7”, an EP, and a cassette tape) and overnight they turned into a hype the size of an ocean liner. The formula? Dirty lo-fi pop, with surf ancestry and the soul of a girl band.
“Crazy for You”,Best Coast’s anxiously-awaited first LP, is all of this and much more. Called to figure among the year’s best albums, it is a treatise of waits by the telephone (for example, the album’s unbeatable start-up, “Boyfriend”, a song where Bethany wonders whether the guy in question is waiting next to the phone, like she is, and when she concludes that he probably isn’t, she exclaims, “I wish she was my boyfriend”), delicious postcards of love (loud yellow ones with Snacks, her cat, in the background like on the cover of the album) lasting barely a minute and a half (or the delicious temporary insanity of “Crazy for You”) and adorable fits of grunge (lo-fi ingenuity and the relationship with Joanie Sommers of “Johnny Get Angry”and the Angels of “My Boyfriend’s Back” make the lazy “Summer Mood” or the very Spector and very She & Him “Our Deal” into real gems). This last category is ruled by “The End”, “Honey” and “Goodbye” , a highway-in-the-middle-of-the-night cut, close to a domesticated Courtney Love during the period when the Hole could have been the band that it never was (round about 1994, when they put out “Live Through This”). But there’s more. There is the very surf and fleeting (it doesn’t last a minute and a half) “Bratty B”, the effective simplicity of “Happy”, the ooh-la-la-la and the torture of “Each & Everyday” and, of course, the happy ending, “When I’m with You”.
Because Bethany has a problem with guys. In reality, she has a lot of problems with guys. So many, that the album could have just been called “My Problems with Guys.” The thing is that she spends the album waiting next to the phone, trying to go out with guys who aren’t bad, but who will never be The One, and going crazy, yes, but crazy for You (him, of course), and then suddenly, they’re together and everything is perfect, the world turns and it isn’t a horrible place (the aforementioned “When I’m with You”). “I’ve always been really embarrassed talking about my problems with guys, but when I start to write songs, it’s one of the only things that they come out about,” says Bethany; having overcome her phobia, she has updated the formula that Spector squeezed in the 60s, and which led The Crystals to sing “He Hit Me (and It Felt like a Kiss)”. The irony is that that song, which is pure theatre in itself (the good kind), was the work of Carole King, the talented woman who for a long time (the decade of the boom of girl bands) was too ugly to go up onstage to sing her songs. The industry was cruel that way. Consentino learned her lesson and started out by bonding with a legion of underground fans (who bought up every new single that she put on sale in a matter of minutes) , who will not only not be disappointed by “Crazy for You”, but who will definitively go crazy for Bethany and her problems with guys. Without a doubt, the must-have of the season. Laura Fernández