Best Coast – California Nights
California Nights is the perfect example of why picking your lead single carefully is important. Leading off with the title track, it would seem that Ms. Bethany Cosentino had decided to go in a much darker, much more downtempo direction on her third LP. This would have been actually kind of welcome: While her debut, Crazy For You, was the perfect pop album for hitting the sunny beach in style, The Only One was like it, but without the charm and winsome longing that she’d brought to the first one. “California Nights” is a big leap forward for her as a songwriter, a slow psych-rock number that could double as a soundtrack for, well, light-blinded California nights.
It’s the only song like it on the record, however. The rest of the album is a return to the tempos and structures that she brought to the table on Crazy For You, but with a bit less sun and shrug. In and of itself this is a good thing – there’s none of the mid-tempo L.A. slog that marred The Only One and quite a few places where the speed spikes and Cosentino stretches into pop-punk territory. “Heaven Sent”, and “Fine Without You” both mine this vein, but the rest of the tracks aren’t terribly far behind.
Can we just pretend that The Only One didn’t happen and that California Nights is her follow-up to Crazy For You? Her second album can just be considered a strange aberration, much as Bad Religion’s Into The Unknown is seen as an ill-advised dip into something best forgotten.