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Rec Room: Alicia Hyman: Best Coast

June 4, 2010

Best Coast, aka Bethany Cosentino, has been lumped in as part of the “chillwave” genre, characterized by simple melodies shimmering in a haze of fuzz and reverb. But the band is by no means an indistinguishable member of some blog-labeled sound. Best Coast is—I don’t know—surf riffs and retro girl-group melodies colliding with garage and lo-fi with a hint of shoegaze. The band hasn’t even put out a proper album yet, but they’re selling out shows all over the country.

Their single “ When I’m With You ” combines an irresistibly catchy melody with simple sentiments like “When I’m with you I have fun,” and “I hate sleeping alone,” repeated over and over. And I’ve listened and bopped along over and over. But Best Coast isn’t all childlike simplicity; it’s more like a longing for this simplicity with the cynicism that comes with living in a postmodern world. Maybe all you want is a sunny day on the beach and someone to sleep next to at night, but shit’s more complicated than that. “Ooh-ooh” choruses and a deadpan stare.

Seeing Beth perform “Up All Night,” live convinced me of her vulnerable side if ever there was a doubt. Alone onstage with just an electric guitar and undistorted vocals, she was magnetic. With barrettes in her hair and tattoos on her skin, she sang about a couple that’s “just too crazy/and far too bored/and way too lazy/to make it work.” But even this apathy is endearing. In the end, Best coast wants to live in simpler, pre-postmodern times, with surf riffs and girl groups, but all that fuzz just keeps getting in the way.


Alicia Hyman is an intern at Guernica.

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