Best Coast Same As It Ever Was at Union Transfer

Bethany Consentino and Bobb Bruno
Bethany Consentino and Bobb Bruno
Posted: July 18, 2012

There are two kinds of bands: the ones that write all kinds of songs, some great, some good, some not so much. Think the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac. And then there are the bands that write the same song over and over again, but we are willing to overlook that fact because it's a great song. Think the Ramones or the Jesus and Mary Chain or Metallica.

Best Coast, the blogger-beloved Cali fuzz-pop duo fronted by former indie-rock It Girl Bethany Consentino, fits into the latter category. I'm not the first one to point this out, which may help to explain why they've begun to mix it up a bit, breaking out of the Phil-Spector-by-way-of-the-Vaselines template that circumscribed their debut and early singles. Still, the basic premise of Best Coast — two-minute doses of eternal sunshine for spotless minds — remains blessedly intact, and such was the case Monday night when Best Coast delivered a sultry, sold-out performance at Union Transfer.

With her white sundress and long chestnut locks, Consentino looked, from a distance, like a less-airbrushed Lana Del Rey and sang like the Go-Gos, circa "Our Lips Are Sealed," backed by a three-piece that included her musical foil, guitarist Bobb Bruno, a bespectacled, overinflated inner tube of a man.

Behind her was a two-story backdrop featuring the cover art of their new, Jon Brion-produced album The Only Way — a giant grizzly carrying the Golden State like it's a surf board. The problem with the new album, to the extent there is one, is that it sacrifices the charming lo-fi opacity of her earlier work for a more vivid, clearly defined sound.

Still, on Monday night Consentino was in fine voice, which is often noted, and she also proved to be an assured rhythm guitar player, which is less often noted. Strumming a banana-yellow Telecaster in tandem with Bruno, Consentino managed to restore the patina of fuzz and those conch-shell-to-the-ear washes of white noise that give her candied vocals a pleasingly saw-toothed edge, but are regrettably absent on the new album. Case in point was the set opening troika of "The End," "Crazy for You," and "Goodbye" from 2010's Crazy for You.

Along the way there were refreshing departures from the fuzz-pop template, such as "How They Want Me to Be" which channels the melancholic sock-hop balladry of the Beach Boys' "In My Room." Her rendition of "Storms," the deep cut, Tusk-era Fleetwood Mac nugget, signaled a gutsy willingness to venture even farther afield of audience expectations, which will serve her well going forward.

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