BY MASON BISSADA
Best Coast, the Los Angeles-based pop duo of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, are set to release their new album Always Tomorrow on February 21st. The duo will also be coming to the Bay Area, performing at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on February 29th. With that in mind, here’s what fans and potential concert goers can expect from the duo’s upcoming fifth studio album.
Coming off of a five-year hiatus since 2015’s California Nights (if you don’t count their 2018 children’s album Best Kids), Best Coast, and Cosentino herself, seem to be looking to pivot—perhaps in their sound, but more so in the substance of their lyrics. Known for their beach-pop, uplifting tones and summer vibes, Best Coast shifts to a much more introspective stance on Always Tomorrow. Where their previous records focused on boys, love and romance (take their hit “Boyfriend” for example), their upcoming record tackles heavier issues such as addiction and mental health. Though it is not always executed to perfection, it is refreshing to see the duo taking risks and touching on issues that they find meaningful.
Tracks such as “For the First Time,” “Roller Coaster,” “Master of My Own Mind,” and the album’s recently released single “Everything Has Changed” display a substantial amount of self-reflection on (presumably) the part of Cosentino. If she is indeed speaking from personal experience, it sounds as though she is recently sober and feeling refreshed because of it. “I used to drink nothing but water and whisky / Now I think those were the reasons why I used to fall / Deep down in a hole” she sings on the cut. As this track has already been released as a single and is the second song on the album, it feels like an announcement that things are changing for Best Coast, just as Cosentino’s life has changed.
Later, on “Roller Coaster,” she says that “I am the same way that I used to be. Took away substances, that’s the only change I see.” It feels as though Cosentino has matured, moving away from “I wish he was my boyfriend.” Instead, she’s “so sick and tired of writing love songs about the same unhealthy things,” as she says on “Seeing Red”. She’s focusing on herself rather than those around her. Perhaps self-reflection is not what fans search for when listening to Best Coast, but one can’t fault Cosentino for allowing her art to reflect her own life.
Musically, Best Coast shifts from a fantastical, care-free sound to something bordering on grunge-pop. Many songs sound almost Paramore-esc. This is fitting, given the shift to heavier ideas in the lyrics. It would’ve been a bit tone-deaf to sing about addiction and sobriety to a casual, fun-loving rhythm. The track “Graceless Kids” dives the deepest into this new genre, sounding chaotic and dark.
For fans who are seeking familiarity, Always Tomorrow still holds some classic, beachy pop. The opening track, “Different Light” carries a distinct Beach Boys vibe and acts as somewhat of a trojan horse, easing fans into a very different album using a familiar-sounding opening bop. The album also touches on Best Coast’s talent for slow jams, particularly towards the back half of the album, with tracks like “True” and “Used to Be”, which are reminiscent of their classic song “Up All Night.”
Besides these callbacks, Always Tomorrow tries a lot of new things. The album is trying to be something more mature and evolved, but sometimes comes off as an imitation because of the remaining pop aspects. A catchy chorus doesn’t always pair well with heavy subject matter, and lyrics of that chorus can begin to sound repetitive and dull if you’re asking your audience to actively listen to them because the message is valuable. Still, it is refreshing to see a band look inwards and share their struggles with their audience.
As for the upcoming concert itself, if previous live shows are any indication, expect an old-fashioned rock concert with Cosentino front and center. Bruno will be jamming beside her, and shifting neon lights will be illuminating the stage. No gimmicks or dancers, just a band playing their hearts out on Leap Day. Advance tickets for Best Coast’s February 29th show at the Regency are available for purchase at: https://www.axs.com/events/386577/best-coast-tickets?skin=goldenvoice.