Crazy For You
(Mexican Summer; 2010)
By Calum Marsh | 11 August 2010
I confess to never having been all that into pot. It’s not that I’m against it or anything; it’s just that it’s never really done anything for me, besides making me listless and sleepy and a little hungry. That’s the only short-form explanation I can offer for finding Crazy For You, Best Coast’s inordinately popular debut LP, uninteresting and flatly dismissible. When I reviewed Best Coast’s last EP, the harmless Where the Boys Are (2009), I did so not with disdain but disinterest, with a shrug of resignation. But Best Coast have come a long way from their humble, hazy, post-Pocahaunted roots. Crazy For You is not simply here, an uncaring cassette’s worth of lazy non-songs; Crazy For You is here, a fully fledged Debut Album boasting professional production and legitimate distribution. This isn’t some bullshit bedroom no-fi from randoms with a Myspace page; this is an honest-to-goodness product made by professional musicians with the intention of presenting it to an audience. And that product, bought and swallowed en masse, is bad—almost aggressively so.
About their EP I wrote that Best Coast’s “chosen aesthetic is, if fundamentally superficial and eventually dull, immensely appealing,” which is to say that it’s really easy to get behind the idea of a super lo-fi, hyper-DIY brand of indie pop. And though I leveled the same complain against King of the Beach a few weeks ago, I think it bears repeating here: what’s so immediately gratifying about shitgaze is what ultimately undermines its attempts to resonate any more deeply—taking simplistic pop music and submerging it in distortion is a pretty cheap trick, and it’s not substantial enough a gimmick to compensate for the vacuousness its used to obscure. Which means that Best Coast are, at best, enjoyably but forgettably beating a trendy dead horse.
Except that for Crazy For You, Best Coast stepped up their game. It’s not that their sound is now drastically different—Wavves’s cheap but unexpected transformation into a ’90s mall-punk band this is not—but what’s the same is bigger and broader, bringing its faults into stark relief. This is, I stress, Best Coast’s Proper Album, and so rather than Where The Boys Are‘s loosely defined “songs” we get Songs: feeble, noise-soaked throw-back translations of everything from doo-wop, girl-group, pop-punk, to pseudo-grunge. Best Coast use these genres only as vague points of reference, credible sites for half-hearted excavation. And while Best Coast’s music has expanded, their attitude has not: the same sentiments which informed Where The Boys Are— “I talk about weed and my cat and being lazy a lot,” Bethany Cosentino said about the album’s thematic undercurrents—still permeate Crazy For You. Cosentino’s self-consciously insipid musings were slightly more excusable in the drifting, stream-of-consciousness context maintained by Where The Boys Are, but Crazy For You‘s increased attention to form and structure make those same sorts of emptily ironic popisms stand out embarrassingly. When we hear “I wish my cat could talk,” how can we be expected not to cringe?
Moments like those make it obvious that Crazy For You doesn’t expect its audience to take it too seriously, but if this stuff isn’t meant to make us feel anything, what are we supposed to take from it? Are we to relax, chill out, and just enjoy it coolly? “There’s something about the summer,” Cosentino sings, and maybe that’s as deep as it goes: there’s just, y’know, something about Best Coast, for some people; it’s vaguely appealing in a listless, mindless, empty way. Which is, unsurprisingly, how I’ve always felt about pot, Crazy For You‘s certified substance of choice (or, I don’t know, way of life?): that shit’s fine, I guess, but it does nothing for me.