Something about this ode to California doesn’t quite resonate well. (Try to forget about the District’s current nighttime lows in the teens in light of SoCal’s eternal sunshine year-round for a while.) Granted, we’ve always known that Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino isn’t the best lyricist — when in doubt, she seems to write about California, cats, or cannabis — so the simplicity of this single’s lyrics, ranging from “I stay high / All the time / Just to get by” to “California nights / Make me feel so happy / I could die.” (Don’t worry, all three bases are covered. Snacks the cat makes a cameo in the video.) The band’s debut album, Crazy For You, was chockfull of those seemingly simple lyrics, yet they seemed appropriate coupled with the lazy sound of Best Coast’s renowned lo-fi surf pop sound at the time.
“California Nights” suggests that the band has abandoned that musical style. Best Coast moved toward more of a Fleetwood Mac-inspired sound with its second album, The Only Place, in 2012 and found a middle ground between its first two records with 2013’s EP, Fade Away. Now, “California Nights,” the title track from the new album, embodies more of a dream pop vibe, even harking back to a shoegaze sound.
Admittedly, the elaborately layered instrumentation deserves acclaim, underscoring how the fast-paced garage rock-influenced surf pop is officially in the past for Best Coast. Cosentino’s vocals are beautiful, which is clear now that they aren’t hidden under noise anymore. Still, the track is just boring. On top of that, it’s also a five-minute-long song, which is practically groundbreaking for the band. Best Coast is heading in a new musical direction, which is definitely a reason to be excited for the May release of the album, even if we may be a little disappointed by the music’s stagnant sound.