A quick scan of the track listing of Best Coast‘ new EP, Fade Away highlights a band in the middle of an identity crisis. Track titles like “Who Have I Become” and “Fear of My Identity” illuminate this point but the lyrics back it up. On the opening track “This Lonely Morning,” Bethany Consentino sings “I don’t know why I feel this way” and “I can’t escape this world sometime.” All signs point to a band feeling some growing pains.
It makes senses. Started in 2009, Best Coast started as a lo-fi bedroom project mixing punk energy with surf rock pathos. After releasing several seven inches that were embraced by the blogosphere, they released their debut album, Crazy For You. Immediately their stock rose. Their follow up album was produced by Jon Brion, known for his work with Kanye West and Fiona Apple. More commercial success came the band’s way. So essentially in three years, Consentino and company went from bedroom project to being featured in a Windows tablet commercial. It is enough to make any band ask the question: how did we get here?
It comes as no surprise to see the band harken back to the bedroom days by composing more surf-tinged indie rock. The problem is, no matter how surfy the guitars, the recording process is too clean and produced to truly recreate what made those first singles and album great. “This Lonely Morning” sounds like it could have been written at the same time period as “Boyfriend” but features none of the pathos-inducing reverb on the vocals or lofi recording charm. Still it fares better than “Baby I’m Crying,” a track that doesn’t manage to match the older recordings energy nor it’s production.
In the end, Fade Away stands as a better “state of the band” document than an EP. It shows Consentino’s struggle with rectifying where she has been to where she’s going. She re-establishes the band’s energy while showing that the shiny new production is here to stay. While a little more reverb on the vocals would be nice, if the band keeps writing songs like “This Lonely Morning” they’ll be just fine.