Welcome to Check Your Mode

The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wavves - King of the Beach: B+ / Best Coast - Crazy For You: A-

There are some albums that would just be stupid marketing to release at any point other than the summer. Just by looking at those covers up there, you can guess that the newest albums from Wavves and Best Coast would fall under this category, as they should. Both Wavves and Best Coast mine a similar sound of sun-bleached melodies laden over punky riffage. Now, those two ratings over there are different, so there are some clear differences between the two albums, but I want you to keep in mind that both releases are excellent summer albums that will be interchangeably effective.

Best Coast is the grouping of guitarist and singer Bethany Cosentino, bassist Bobb Bruno and drummer Ali Koehner, but there is no mistaking that this is purely Cosentino's show. Her voice is Crazy For You's best aspect, as it has this fantastic mix of passion and malaise that seems to ebb and flow with her guitar for some dream-like head-bopping. Based on Crazy For You, Cosentino's life is pretty simple; she can't find that boy she's been wanting, her cat can't talk, the fact that "crazy" rhymes with "lazy" is a godsend, and her honey is, well, I'll let you figure that out. But it's all put into such a fantastic-sounding package, that most lyrical flubs are forgiven. As with any lo-fi artist, some musical aspects literally get lost in the mix. "The End" is the only song where I hear any bass, and you always know there is drumming going on, but the album could lack it entirely, and you wouldn't notice. The guitar fills in the spaces not occupied by Cosentino's voice, of which there is sometimes none. Cosentino's voice is extremely capable of carrying the album, though, making for a very complete release despite some obvious limitations.

If Cosentino is Lizzie from Lizzie McGuire (random analogy I know), then Nathan Williams of Wavves is her brother, Matt. While Cosentino is only concerned with boy troubles, Williams has a little more depth. Sure, he's got girl troubles, but, on King of the Beach, he writes about other things, like not giving a shit, how his friends suck and wanting to go surfing. The music of King of the Beach also has more variety. Bass is present throughout, a hip-hop-like thumping appears a couple times and there are a few more drumfills. Tempos go a little faster more often, and Nathan sounds like Tom Delong when he says "understand" in "Post Acid".

So even though Wavves made the more varied and, honestly, mature, effort, Best Coast has managed to make the better album. I believe this has less to do with Williams' shortcomings and more to do with the fact that Cosentino does what she does so well that it's hard to compete with an artist that plays a niche so well. Both King of the Beach and Crazy For You are portraits of normal people who use the summer for escape, and both albums are escapism at its best. In his words, Wavves is an idiot and, in mine, Best Coast is naive, but both have made excellently flawed material that at the very least gets the job done, even if I may not be listening to it as frequently next month.


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