Best Coast – Always Tomorrow
Five years on from California Nights, Bethany Cosentino delivers a thoughtful paean to self-care at the second attempt
If you suspected that Bethany Cosentino might have been protesting too much on the last Best Coast record, you’d have been right.
California Nights was, ostensibly, an exercise in self-empowerment. After Crazy for You had seen the singer pigeonholed as the stoner girl who sings about boys and cats, and the Jon Brion-produced The Only Place had proved a creative misfire, Cosentino’s third album with guitarist Bobb Bruno was littered with pointed references to positivity, mental wellbeing and a sense of forward momentum. There were indicators elsewhere, though, that perhaps all wasn’t as well as Cosentino was seeking to project (the emotional turmoil of Fine Without You, the confrontational Jealousy). When she reflected on the record in a recent interview with The New York Times, she made characteristic reference to Seinfeld, quoting George Costanza: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
She now admits California Nights was an only partially successful attempt at covering over her insecurities and that the process of putting together this first new LP in five years, Always Tomorrow, was at times torturous, with bouts of severe writer’s block. But the value in having waited out the dry spells is obvious; there’s a serenity and soft optimism to the record that suggests Cosentino is finally comfortable with herself. This manifests itself lyrically – particularly when she nods to her new-found sobriety on Everything Has Changed – but more importantly, it’s present in the music.
She finally sounds unafraid to lean unabashedly into her influences. This works wonders on For the First Time, which sounds like a lost cut from Tango in the Night, and Different Light, which draws in forthright fashion from the pop-punk playbook of Green Day and Blink-182. That there’s room for experimentation, too (see the spoken word outro to Graceless Kids, or the spacey closer Used to Be) speaks to her confidence. This is the record she wanted us to think California Nights was.
Listen to: For the First Time, Graceless Kids, Used to Be