Tonight at London’s Electric Ballroom, Californian lo-fi pop duo Best Coast are supported by fellow Hole-enthusiasts Honeyblood (the name being a description of the sugary fake blood mixture lead singer Stina Tweeddale once spat over an audience at a Halloween gig). Much like Best Coast, Honeyblood like their songs primarily in a four-chord format, and as Cat Myers literally kicks the shit out of her drums and Stina smacks her guitar to the refrain of Bloody Chamber homage, ‘Choker’, in contrast with the headliners it quickly becomes clear that Glasgow produces a rather different kind of band to Los Angeles. By the time Honeyblood arrive at crowd-pleasing, sing-a-long earworm, ‘Super Rat’ (sample lyric: “I. WILL. HATE. YOU. FOREVER.”), most members of the fist-pumping audience look about ready to take their tops off and do laps around the building. The set meta-climaxes with ‘Biro’ - a paean to songwriting (“all the pain you’ve been through, will be the making of you”) - and a very appropriate introduction to California’s Best Coast.
On 2010’s Crazy For You, Best Coast adopted that aesthetic wielded so deftly by girl bands in the sixties, of writing upbeat songs about downbeat subjects. They sounded like a lithograph sunset, washed lightness over something dark, lush guitars painted over sadness. Three albums deep and although Best Coast still inhabit that space between light and dark, they have long since evolved from lo-fi echo-chamber pop band into a chugging riff factory, wailing solos and punchy four-chord choruses littering new material like beer cups on the ground. Their new album is a homage to their hometown, the Lynchian oneirism of walking around in the warm dark of the LA hills. In yet another break from form, California Nights is more pop-punk than pop, more ‘rock’ than before, even at times verging on the psychedelic. The title track for example is five minutes long, which for a band who like to stick generally around the two minute mark means it’s basically War and Peace.
Tonight Bethany Cosentino bobs up and down, eyes closed, singing about everything from the California sun to 'frenemies', to waiting by the telephone to get a call. Quite apart from the fact that Best Coast can really kick out the jams when it comes to rock songs, it could be said that the intimate songs and Bethany’s lyrics are the reason Best Coast continue to be so popular. At times things become so personal it feels as if she’s confiding something, rather than singing a song. In an interview in 2012 she admitted to the Guardian that a young woman once approached her and said, “You write my life. You write songs about the things that I go through, that I can't talk to people about because I'm embarrassed or I'm shy or whatever.” As she rips her guitar apart and yells into her microphone in the Electric Ballroom, in the audience there are spontaneous outbreaks of women hugging. I would say that’s a successful evening.
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