Best Coast – The Only Place

Summer is right around the corner. And this May, Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno help kick off long lazy days full of sandy toes and winding roads with the release of their sophomore album, The Only Place (Mexican Summer).

The album pays tribute to our home state, and the cover, featuring an image taken from the sheet music of a 1913 song about the greatest state ever, might now be the greatest album cover ever.

The songs on this album, unlike 2010’s Crazy for You, aren’t washed in waves of Spector fuzz. Under direction of Jon Brion, Cosentino’s voice takes center stage, giving the album a musical clarity to match the emotional poignancy of heartache, wayward wanderings, and the sleepless self-doubts of growing up. So, no… it’s not your typical summer party album. “I don’t know what day it is,” Cosentino laments on the album’s final track, “because I’ve been up all night.” It’s a tearjerker as equally suited to remembering a lost love as it is for reminiscing about that best summer ever. Oh summer of ’02… those were crazy times… Nothing wistful; just beautiful melancholy.

The first single off the record is a pretty legitimate summer anthem however. Check out the title track and sing along. Really – why would you live anyplace else?

But if it’s straightforward dance pop that keeps the windows rolled down during 8:00 PM sunset drives, then succumb to Brooklyn’s latest buzz band. Professor Murder’s Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm are Tanlines, and their debut album, Mixed Emotions (True Panther Sounds), is an infectious blend of 80’s pop and Vampire Weekend chicanery. “All of Me” is all fun.

Chromatics’ long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s Night Drive becomes the soundtrack to sexy summer nights: strips of headlights, crumpled in cab backseats, and empty bottles on the sidewalk. Kill for Love (Italians Do It Better) will be in the end-of-the-year album conversation, and the title track is hypnotic italo-disco at its best.