And the award for most insufferable indie-pop star of 2010 goes to . . . the singer of Best Coast, Bethany-something-or-other.
I'd heard a lot of good things about the debut full-length by this California garage-pop act, and this record is not without its merits: There are a handful of catchy tunes on Crazy for You, and the band's pop sensibilities (unrefined though they are) warrant keeping an eye on Best Coast's musical development. And I admired the abandon with which the rhythm section bashes away on the uptempo songs.
But one can take only so much one-note whining in a 34-minute pop record.
The lovesick, drenched-in-reverb crooning of poor, lonely Bethany (the range-less singer sounds like what Neko Case must have sounded like at 14 years old) is tiresome, at best, and outright grating, at worst. Longing is a tried-and-true topic in pop music, but that's the only thing Bethany seems to be singing about. That and marijuana.
Weed's okay, but it's really not that interesting. Singing about weed (how it freaks her out, how it makes her lazy, how even a whole bunch can't stop her from longing) is yawn city. Here's some news for Bethany: Drinking and cocaine are what make things (whether they be tragic or comic) happen. I'd like to suggest that Bethany cut back on smoking pot and, perhaps, drink more whisky -- something more adult. And get out more, hang out in bars 'til closing time, date other people (I hear those online services have worked wonders for people), maybe get in a self-destructive relationship. Then, she can sit back and watch the songs get better and better.
At the risk of this post devolving into a hey-you-kids-get-the-hell-off-my-lawn rant, I have to say this record is simply chock-full of Age of Entitlement/Echo Boomer bullshit. Dig these lyrics from "Goodbye" (musically, my favorite song on the disc): "I lost my job / I miss my mom / I wish my cat could talk / Every time you leave this house, everything just falls apart . . . Well, I don't love you / And I don't hate you / I don't know how I feel . . . And nothing makes me happy / not even TV or a bunch of weed / Every time you leave this, everything just falls apart." Yeah, life's tough, Bethany. Try not to become profoundly depressed when shit doesn't go exactly your way.
As I alluded to earlier, you can plug those lyrics into 80 percent of the songs on Crazy for You and you wouldn't know the difference. What's that Oscar Wilde quote? "Youth is wasted on the young." That's our Bethany.
Best song: "Goodbye"
Rotation: Low -- tunefully catchy as some of Crazy for You is.
Deja vu: Meticulously sculpted lo-fi, a stylistic convention that has reached its tipping point already. Maybe someone will bring back real lo-fi in 2011.
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment