A Beginner’s Guide to Best Coast

bestcoast

There’s a reason I listened to Best Coast’s sophomore album on repeat so often last summer, and it isn’t because I’m not picky about my music. Both The Only Place and the band’s debut album Crazy for You provide perfect material for a solid summer soundtrack. Each song contributes to an album that oozes a day’s worth of sunshine, from the mild light that trickles in through your blinds in the morning to the sort that beats down from overhead on a long summer afternoon. Instead of promising an endless summer, Best Coast plays the music that you can enjoy through the highs and lows of an otherwise idealized time of year*.

Best Coast is a band typically defined by their California origins. The band’s West Coast environment is responsible for their musical style (and for their name), so it’s not frivolous to know that bit of geographic trivia. However, I find myself charmed by the other stylistic elements of Best Coast’s music as well. It is for that reason that each song on the following list was painstakingly chosen. Hopefully they can help you to find a Best Coast song to sing along to and enjoy.

Listen to the Youtube playlist as you read along.

1. The Only Place    

We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair

When we get bored we like to sit around- sit around and stare

At the mountains, at the birds, at the ocean, at the trees

We have fun, we have fun, we have fun when we please

Why would you live anywhere else?

This song opens the band’s sophomore album, with which it shares a name. The song is all jangly guitar and unflagging energy, making it utterly danceable. It’s positivity is completely infectious- if this song doesn’t make you smile, there is probably something wrong with your mouth. Although it literally sings the praises of the band’s home state, it is sure to remind you of wherever it is that you feel most at home.

2. When I’m With You     

Ever since I was a little girl

My momma always told me there’d be boys like you

So when I’m with you I have fun

Yeah when I’m with you I have fun

Yeah when I’m with you I have fun

Yeah when I’m with you I have fun

Best Coast’s catchy 1960s-style hooks are a godsend; because of them, you can learn the lyrics to almost any song while it’s playing. I found myself doing that when I saw the band in concert. It’s nearly impossible not to sing along to “When I’m With You” not only because it’s catchy, but because it expresses something so uncomplicated and simply feel-good: “When I’m with you I have fun”. What’s not to like about that? (I recommend a live version of the song, if only because it’s a bit faster and more energetic. The band played this song for their iTunes Session, so you can even download the song in its “live” form.)

3. In My Room (Beach Boys cover)

In this world I lock out

All my worries and my fears

In my room

“In My Room” isn’t technically a Best Coast song, but their lo-fi interpretation of The Beach Boys’ tune is still excellent. The sound is less saccharine and melancholy-sounding than the tone of The Beach Boys’ track. The original song evokes feelings of retreating into your bedroom after a fight or a long day, finding peace in solitude. While there’s nothing wrong with that, most days I prefer Best Coast’s version, which conjures more of an image of chilling out in your kind-of messy bedroom all day- taking a break from everything but your own little ecosystem. Best Coast really made this song their own by imbuing it with a fuzzy sound that is reminiscent of the band’s earlier songs like “The Road” or “Wish He Was You”.

4. Mean Girls

And when I think about that day

I know the sky turned an awful gray

‘Cause you were the storm on my parade

Always

A bonus track from The Only Place, “Mean Girls” is one of the most underrated Best Coast songs. The bulk of the song is its chorus, but the lyrics in between concisely capture every feeling you’ve ever had when it comes to your former-best-girlfriend. Singing along is totally cathartic.

5. Each and Every Day     

Every day I wake up and I thank the stars above

For sending me a man who I could really love

If only I could convince you

To feel the same way

We could be so very happy each and every day

This song is about unrequited love, but instead of being moony and sappy it’s energetic, even upbeat. In the last few minutes of the song, the tempo drops down for the delivery of an almost-bluesy, bass-backed message to a would-be boyfriend. The diversity of the sound in this song alone reflects the band’s stylistic creativity.

6. Crazy for You   

I’m always waiting by the phone

I can’t wait for you to get home

I’m always crazy when I miss you

I’m always lazy when I miss you

“Crazy for You” is short and romantic; the lyrics repeat and rhyme- basically, this is the kind of Best Coast song that their critics always decry as overly simplified. To me, this song illustrates a quality of Best Coast’s work that I admire: it’s direct. Although their newer songs are more complex and engaging lyrically, they haven’t lost their straight-to-the-point quality.

7. Fear of My Identity

The fear of my identity is standing right in front of me

I want to run but I can’t see

I want to scream but I can’t speak

The fear of my identity is standing right in front of me

I want to run but I can’t see

I wanted to be you, but I know it’s me

Best Coast’s songwriter/frontwoman Bethany Cosentino has a talent for writing lyrics that say everything she needs them to, without saying too much. While she often writes lyrics that are confessional, they are never too personal for listeners to relate to; generality and genuine emotion coexist flawlessly in her songs. Even when a listener can’t relate to something a Best Coast song is describing, the openness of the lyrics tells a bit of a story.

8. Do You Love Me Like You Used To

I’m always runnin’ down the street

I don’t remember what it means to be me

I left all of that shit behind

But still I seem to lose my mind

There are so many great lyrics in this song that it was tough to choose only one selection. Although the mood and subject of “Do You Love Me Like You Used To” are definitely heavier than anything expressed in a song like “The Only Place”, this song isn’t a downer. Even in a song with more somber content, Best Coast conveys a sense of positivity; sometimes it is optimism, other times just an unspoken acceptance of identity crises, lost jobs, homesickness, and break-ups as a part of life. Yes, the music seems to say, that’s rough, but that’s life sometimes.

*(Their music isn’t exclusive to summertime- you’re welcome to blast it from your car while there’s snow on the ground; I just tend to break it out as soon as one can really say that summer is coming in the same way that radio stations begin to play holiday music on Thanks

– Lisa Ryan, Contributing Writer. textandthecity13.blogspot.com

Art by Brie

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One comment

  1. Definitely one of the bands I had heard songs from but never really listen too. So awesome. The Inconnu track record for music I like is crazy good. I am also super picky to the point that I wish I liked more things.

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