Yes, I know. That 9 out of 10 score is rather high for The Only Place when compared to the other reviews out there on Google. A quick perusal of this album on Metacritic.com shows the usual polarity – one major review gives it a 10/10 and another has a 3/10. Blah. Blah. Blah. So what gives? How much of an album review is just personal preference by the reviewer versus a hard look at the product? Well, this is art we’re evaluating and we never needed a rocket scientist to correctly evaluate the difference between the Beatles and the Monkees, even if that rocket scientist hated the Beatles. I wouldn’t want to be in the passenger seat of the rocket built by the guy that scored the White Album at 4/10.
Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno of Best Coast have challenged critics and fans just slightly. Album #2 does not sound like album #1 (Crazy For You) and album #1 was collectively loved. So by changing their sound slightly (from a lo-fi garage sound to something more mellow and polished) Best Coast risks landing in one of two places: a) bands that take a chance on change but then suck, or b) bands that change their sound and deliver the goods. Best Coast delivers the goods. This album is quick, slick, personal and features a 16-minute, 5-song medley (My Life/No One Like You/How They Want Me To Be/Better Girl/Do You Love Me Like You Used To) right smack in the middle of the album that is rather stunning. Showcasing hook after hook and highlighted by Cosentino’s trememdous voice it is perfect music for 2012. Finally, we get another great album that knows when to actually stop. Clocking in at a mere 34 minutes it is a breeze of a listen. It’s a drive to the grocery store and back but it feels like so much more. Just when they’ve turned you up, they shut you down after those 30+ minutes and make you await their next release. This is not some 71 minute CD here with 16 tracks of which 12 last too long and three that don’t belong. The Only Place is dynamite in a 34-minute stick.
Over a thrilling two album run now, Consentino still reigns supreme. The Only Place doesn’t even include her best moment on vinyl. That’s still reserved for the opening 5 seconds of “Our Deal” from Crazy For You. Put the famous video for that song out of your mind and just play the opening 5 seconds from the track. You’ll hear several tiny, quick, perfect changes of melody within Cosentino’s voice in those few seconds. It’s her voice which is perhaps the most overlooked yet attractive aspect of both albums. This album may come after you in a slightly different direction than what you expected but in this instance The Only Place takes all the right steps as it comes after you.