Best Coast, Scala, London


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Best Coast are the current darlings of the indie scene. Fronted by a stoner pin-up, Bethany Cosentino, the band are nominally members of the "chillwave" movement, a loosely aligned bunch of music-making slackers. But Best Coast's especially laconic take on "classic" US indie shares little with the rest of the scene, which tends to produce sparse, haunting electro instead of asinine surf rock.

Tonight, we are basically listening to a Pavement tribute band. That's OK. Pavement are a reasonable band and 1990s collegiate indie was probably due a revival, but it makes for a derivative experience. Cosentino lacks the necessary imagination in her songwriting to make any satisfying mark in a style in which it is already too easy to sound lifeless. Too many soundalike songs pass through without distinguishing themselves, and too often they devolve into caterwauling.

Even the big numbers, the songs that earn optimistic roars from the crowd, tend to the bland. They are not awful and it doesn't hurt to hear them – it is just that a treadmill of uninspired songs spools by without much by way of respite. Cosentino is perfectly lovely, a cheery stage presence, unafraid of the fact that she is now playing to larger crowds. And her band's upward trajectory is undeniable.

In truth, Best Coast are not as bad as all that. They have a solid if monotonous record, which they play with force and ability. They do not, however, have the chops to warrant the way they have been sold to us. The best we can say is that they are all right if you like this kind of sleepy ineptitude in your music. Stand them next to a similarly scuzzy lady-led rock band like, say, Giant Drag, and there is no comparison. On reflection, the world probably isn't ready for the second coming of Pavement.