Were it possible to make a guitar effect that brings to mind Pacific mist cascading on to a beach of stoned Californian slackers, anyone could sound like Best Coast. But as it is the LA three-piece fronted by 22-year old Bethany Cosentino are peerless in the field of vibrant, scuzzy Americana, showcasing a lo-fi charm that has propelled them, appropriately, into the affections of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore among many others.
Tonight's gig is to mark the launch of their punchy debut album, Crazy for You. It's faced some criticism for its perceived lyrical shallowness; a few listens in though, and with all the extra expressive qualities of a live performance, lines that at first blush seem lightweight turn darker and more melancholy. The refrain of album opener, "Boyfriend", "I wish he was my boyfriend", stalks into the realms of obsession as a whole emotional fantasy is played out in two and a half minutes; a story of Consentino jealously toppling the competition for her subject's affection and, eventually, locking eyes as the sun rises, its efficiency as a psychological subversion of its laid-back surfer stylings is terrifying.
The band's mascot, Bethany's beloved pet Snacks the cat, is mentioned often, and features on a merchandise stall doing a brisk trade. Elsewhere, it's announced that drummer Ali Koehler, formerly of Vivian Girls, is now a full band member, after playing with the group in an unofficial capacity. They're unafraid to pay their dues, rattling through the Ramones' "I Wanna be Your Boyfriend" at least in part to contextualise their earlier, similarly titled, number. At the close, though, it's love that wins out, and the band conclude their brief encore with another cover, this time of Wavves, who are fronted by Consentino's current partner, Nathan Williams. "I'm bored", its chorus goes, and though the line is belted out by Best Coast's estimable frontwoman with the same joyful exuberance as the rest of tonight's short but sweet set, few in the audience could agree.