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Best Coast: The Only Place (Mexican Summer) 

Crazy for You was an interesting case study: It was thrilling because it was a "new" reinvention of an old sound, and it was part of a minor wave of surf-adjacent indie pop (along with Wavves, the Drums, et al.). It made a nostalgic sound appear fresh. It was also such a constructed artifact—with Bethany Cosentino affecting a very specific kind of persona—that one was compelled to either admire the craftsmanship (fans) or decry the artifice (detractors).

It's weird, then, that The Only Place is getting a lukewarm reception (a 6.2 on Pitchfork, a B- on the A.V. Club, three out of five stars from the U.K.'s The Observer), because it's got the same sparkling song craft, but less of the put-on masochism. Even on "Why I Cry," the refrain is, "You seem to think you know everything / But you don't know why I cry," which is a shift from the passive yearning on Crazy for You's "Boyfriend."

Critics are undervaluing The Only Place because that sheen of newness has worn from Best Coast a bit. I'm still in love. I haven't fallen this hard for a bone-dry sing-song alto since Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, and The Only Place is a stronger effort than Phair's Whip-Smart. (There's no double-Dutch twee shenanigans to be found here.) Perhaps The Only Coast is simply too much of a logical extension of Crazy for You's beach-pop flavor.

More by Sean Bottai

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