ALBUM REVIEW: Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino is reborn anew on ‘Always Tomorrow’

Best Coast Always Tomorrow

“This album is the story of a second chance,” Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast said about the duo’s new LP, Always Tomorrow.

The definition of a second chance, loosely speaking, is the opportunity to say that one failure isn’t the end and there’s always hope for something better. For Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, this version of a second chance comes after five years of silence (mostly) and 10-plus years in the music industry.

Always Tomorrow
Best Coast
Concord Records, Feb. 21

After a whirlwind of unexpected success, internet buzz and touring that started right after its 2010 debut, Crazy for You, Best Coast became a staple of college radio playlists and the focus of endless music blog posts. With their sun-soaked mix of indie surf-pop and garage rock, it’s easy to hear why Best Coast’s songs stick to the ears so addictively. But after touring 2015’s California Nights, Cosentino was faced with a wall that no artist wants to run into. She felt creatively stuck and couldn’t write music. When Cosentino finally reached the breaking point and forced herself to pick up the pen and locked herself in to work, the creation of Always Tomorrow began.

“Everything Has Changed” was the song born in that small space, with lyrics dealing with the slings and arrows of a past self. “I used to drink nothing but water and whisky/ Now I think those were the reasons why I used to fall,” she sings. But all the while, Cosentino manifests a brighter future, reflected not just in her words but in the music as well. A steady grind of guitars goes from almost downtrodden to ebullient each time the chorus comes to life.

It’s that sense of rebirth and of self-care that is found throughout Always Tomorrow, especially on songs like “For The First Time.” Sonicly buoyant to match the assured tones of Cosentino’s vocals as she declares that “I finally feel free/ I feel like myself again,” it’s clear that so much has changed for Consentino. Of course, change isn’t easy, and Cosentino doesn’t shy away from that side of the coin either. When she digs into the struggles of rebuilding herself on “Wreckage,” you can hear how ready she is to move on from her own inner demons even as it’s her own feet she keeps tripping over: “I’m so sick of being proud and I’ve got nothing left to say/ Guess I’m really still the best at getting in my own way.”

Cosentino is finding all the ways in which to love herself a bit more on this album. She’s also letting in some more love from others, too. “True” saunters in sweetly, like a ’50s-style love ballad, guitar set to a gentle rhythm that any pair of lovers could sway along to. In words dreamy but still honest, Cosentino reveals that she has found someone worth sticking with: “I keep tryin’ to run away/ But you convince me to stay/ When you look at me that way.”

Always Tomorrow closes with “Used To Be,” an expansive wall of sound from top to bottom as Cosentino braves the unknown by accepting it completely. Her voice echoes out as she sings, “Don’t talk to me/ Like you know me/ ‘Cause I’m not the same girl I used to be,” letting go of who she once was and of who everyone thought she had to be. It’s one of the most defining moments on this album, where everything culminates in this defiant feeling of a cycle completed so that the new can grow and flourish.

And that brings us all the way back to second chances, doesn’t it? It’s in the lyrics Cosentino has written. It’s in the music that Best Coast as a duo has created. It’s right there in the name of this album. With Always Tomorrow, Best Coast is grabbing that second chance with sure hands, saying that the past is part of who we are but it isn’t all we are—and we can always start over again, tomorrow.

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