In those wild music industry years when physical sales dive-bombed and streaming had yet to take hold, songs and artists often made their way to the listener in fractured ways. A blog post here, a shoddy mp3 there, the old tastemaker rules were eroded and warped at dizzying speed. Bands and entire genres were titanically hyped only to disappear without a trace, while the explosion of choice brought with the digital age made it harder for artists to become household names.
Now, a decade or so down the line, it's fascinating to see who survived those confusing days. The happy news is that Best Coast are one of these acts, and they’ve just returned with their most personal, punchy album yet. It's both intimate while being completely relatable, especially for those entering their 30s and looking back at the damage of adulthood's formative years. When the album cycle for 2015's 'California Nights' was finished, vocalist and guitarist Bethany Cosentino found herself depressed, unable to write or see a brighter future. She eventually managed to pen 'Everything Has Changed' and luckily, it actually did. By describing the life she knew she wanted in song, she freed herself to pursue it and before long would add 10 more tracks of recovery to the pile.
The resulting album, on which she’s joined (as ever) by the brilliant Bobb Bruno, is an irresistibly upbeat tribute to self-care, reflection, and the joy of the everyday. With maturity, the mundane can get pretty fulfilling, lyrics about bedsheets, plants, and walking the dog, replacing tales of getting high and dysfunctional relationships. The Fleetwood Mac-channeling 'For The First Time' shows the band's growth both musically and personally, producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (who’s worked with the likes of Paramore) adding some welcome pop sheen to one of the album's many highlights. Later, 'Graceless Kids' sees Cosentino coming to terms with her role as an indie figurehead: “They need a hero, not a wreck / not a phony in a floral print dress.”
‘Master Of My Own Mind' showcases some of the group's straight-forward attack of old, while the country-tinged 'True' sees them get soppy over the beauty of healthy dating, with great modern lyrics like: “And now I feel the things I read about in magazines.” The melodrama is upped for closer, 'Used To Be', the most confrontational and defiant moment on the record, Bruno's layered guitar work soaring into the ether as our narrator happily embraces the unknown.
With 'Always Tomorrow' Best Coast have not only shown they're survivors but have also paved a way to a happier and, hopefully, more productive future. Who said indie-rock had to be all sad chords and dead poets?
7/10 Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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