It's been more than a little bit frustrating to watch how Best Coast's sophomore album, The Only Place, has fared since its release a few months ago. People have been loathe to accept the slightly more fancied-up version of the bare-bones sound Bethany Cosentino and company had so much success with a few years back. It's not difficult to understand why there would be some balking: They worked with producer Jon Brion, for one, and he's known for a considerably richer, more elaborate sound. And then Cosentino wouldn't shut up about how much she liked Fleetwood Mac, which was a lot to handle even before she went and attached her name to an obviously Stevie Nicks-indebted clothing line at Urban Outfitters. People wanted three chords and copious references to cats and weed, and they were being sold something else entirely, even if, in reality, the differences between the two albums are nowhere near as drastic as those other factors would lead you to believe.
But then there's been another problem: While the public's perception of The Only Place has put too much emphasis on how the band has changed, the way the band has presented the songs in a live setting has been off the mark in the other direction. Hearing songs like the title track performed during their extensive press tour, you'd be perfectly justified in assuming it's an outtake from the Crazy For You sessions. It's all straightforward distorted guitars that chug along as if Brion had never gone anywhere near them. There's no sign of the little flourishes that bring the song to life on the record—the wickedly pleasant acoustic guitar from the intro, the twangy, dueling leads interspersed throughout, or, of course, Cosentino's immediately likable multi-tracked vocal performance.
These are things that will become more prevalent as time goes on and she continues to grow not only as a songwriter, but as a performer. That she's growing at all, be it more or less than people would like her to, is laudable in its own right, especially given the adamantly simplistic beginnings. The songs are there; the kinks will work themselves out eventually.
Best Coast plays Terminal 5 on Tuesday, 7/17.Tickets are $20.