California Nights is the smartest stupid album of the year. After a few albums of lo-fi bedroom pop that never quite felt sincere to me, this is the album where Best Coast finally become what they were destined to be: a big, dumb, slick rock band, like Oasis if they loved California as much as the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“Stupid” and “dumb” aren’t usually adjectives used for praise, but there is an appeal to how California Nights completely foregoes any attempt at intellectualism or depth, and instead focuses on crafting anthemic pop songs that just sound good. It’s a smart decision that plays to the band’s strengths while making you forget about their weaknesses. Freed from the self-imposed lo-fi constraints of their past music, Bethany Cosentino’s singing and melodies soar higher while Bobb Bruno’s guitar benefits from the extra polish, evoking the California-landscape-at-sunset feelings the band has always gone for.
The bigger sound and added production values likely alienated some of Best Coast’s original fans, and music critics weren’t too keen on it either. But I think California Nights is the sound of a band finally figuring out who they are and embracing it.