Six-Star Songs: Best Coast, “Goodbye” (2010)

Albums don’t get more perfect than Best Coast’s 2010 full-length debut Crazy for You. There is not a single dud or mediocre track on it, and it is extremely unique and consistent in its sound, mood, and vibe. Above all, the album’s sonic signature sets it apart, that ultra-warm, analog, lo-fi sound, which recording engineer Lewis Pesacov is in all likelihood most responsible for. (One perk of making a blog is that I find out cool shit like this that I normally wouldn’t have.) Pesacov takes producer credit for the album on his website. Technically he’s not given that credit in the album’s liner notes, but his claim to that title is what makes me think he’s the sound’s main architect. Specifically, the choices for reverb speak to much of that sound’s character. Bethany Cosentino’s vocals have some really lovely ‘60s sounding reverb on them, and the guitars often have a nice vintage spring ‘verb as well.

Best Coast, “Goodbye”

Crazy in Love recording engineer and producer Lewis Pesacov

Although no one in particular is credited as songwriter(s) in the liner notes, the consensus seems to be that Cosentino writes the music, which here is written in such a beautifully minimalist way. From time to time I find the lyrical aspect of the songwriting to be a little too simple (just because I said albums don’t get any more perfect doesn’t mean I think the album is perfect). I’m all for repetition in verses, but for example, sometimes Cosentino forces one syllable to stretch too long where two or three would have been more effective. But perhaps the most surprising outcome on the topic of lyrics is that the subject matter, naive infatuation-based “love”, manages to never get stale. This is especially impressive considering that the lyrics are so fundamentally basic. But it works, and not many people denied that, as the album received widespread acclaim upon its release.

As consistently good as Crazy for You is, there is one song that really blows my mind. The sound of “Goodbye” is thick, syrupy and heavy like a fat stack of pancakes. Cosentino hasn’t been shy when it comes to talking about her mental illness to the media, and this song clearly comes from a darker place. “Goodbye” tells a tale of a relationship-dependent, house-ridden girl living with mental illness. By the end of the song, we gather that our main character feels stuck in a hot-and-cold relationship full of breakups and makeups (“Everytime you go away, I feel like I could cry / But I would never really cry because you’re the worst at goodbyes”).

This is the only picture I could find of Best Coast that is definitely from 2010. It’s from an April show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, three months before Crazy for You came out

The lyrics serve their purpose, painting a highly relatable picture of depression and desperation in love, but the emotion this song emanates just knocks me off my feet. The changes and progression are absolutely flawless. The beginning of the song makes you want to hang your head low and bob it from left to right, and the whole song just makes you want to move — not dance, but move (I almost always play air drums at the end on each listen). When it gets to the first bridge, (“I don’t love you, I don’t hate you…”), it’s over. That shit is some of the baddest sounding shit I’ve ever heard. Cosentino moans like a banshee while bandmate Bobb Bruno wails on the drums in the back. After that we get an interlude before one more shortened verse, and then we head into the last section of the song, an intense, extended chorus that crescendos with Bruno laying on the crash cymbal and Cosentino adding some dreamy, reverb-drenched backing harmonies.

Be on the lookout for more coverage of Best Coast here on Invincible Sword Goddess. This album and this song in particular are very high up on my favorites lists but their catalog is highly consistent and there’s lots more to discuss.