Best Coast’s 2010 debut record, Crazy For You, was a hit with critics and indie fans alike. The lo-fi production, saccharin pop-hooks and lovesick lyrics generated a lot of buzz, and soon charted on the U.S. Billboard 200.
Singer Bethany Cosentino pushed herself to keep producing music, but after Best Coast’s third record, 2015’s California Nights, she found herself unable to write. It would be five years before the band released another record, Always Tomorrow, which came out in February of 2020.
During that five-year gap, she told herself that she had suffered a severe case of writer’s block. She’s since reconsidered what was happening.
“Crazy For You came out when I was 22. And I didn’t stop going until I was about to turn 30. So there was a lot of stuff I needed to process,” Cosentino says. “At the time, I equated my worth with how much I was creating, how many songs I was writing per day, and the pandemic helped me realize that none of that stuff is tied to my value. I had to do a lot of work around who am I as an artist, and who am I as a person, and those two things are completely separate.”
Always Tomorrow is Best Coast’s most optimistic and straightforward power-pop record, sounding almost like a different band than when they produced the hazy sadness of their earlier records. As powerful as it was, the group was only able to tour behind it for two weeks before the world shut down.
But now Best Coast is hitting the road again; they return with a deluxe version of Always Tomorrow, which has a live version of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy,” two songs released last year and two new songs. It will be released just four days before their Jan. 11 Santa Cruz show.
“As an artist, to have put out a record nearly two years ago, and to just now be embarking on a tour for it—it’s pretty interesting to still be referring to it as a ‘new’ record,” Cosentino says.
But the album is very special for Cosentino, who worked through a lot of personal issues during the time between California Nights and Always Tomorrow, including getting sober. When she wrote “Everything Has Changed,” an anthemic rock song that could easily be a theme song of acceptance, she was still working on getting sober, almost like she was trying to will her sobriety and peace of mind into existence.
“Writing songs is a very therapeutic process,” Cosentino says. “I almost have this ability to reach deep into my psyche and pull this stuff out and just put it out into the universe. I’m a very spiritual, ‘woo woo’ person. I was born and raised in LA; I think it’s intrinsically in me. I don’t realize I’m doing it, but I feel like I am manifesting these things for myself.”
Releasing a hopeful record about acceptance with lines like “Everything has changed/I like it this way” and “People can change/’Cause I finally feel free” is sort of odd, timing-wise, just before a global pandemic. For Cosentino, it seemed fortuitous, and one that made a lot of sense as time progressed. She had to process the message of the album.
“I feel like I made a record that was necessary to make not only for myself, but I think also for the collective fan base of people that this record reached,” Cosentino says. “Ultimately, the core of this record was about learning to be okay with not being able to control so much. The biggest lesson that I had to take from the pandemic was I had to laugh at myself, like, ‘Dude, you can’t control any of this stuff.’”
With everything that happened, she feels like Always Tomorrow didn’t get the proper attention it deserved, which is why she is glad to have a second chance to share it with people.
“It just makes sense to tie it all back together and sort of create one big piece of art because we didn’t feel like Always Tomorrow is a thing of the past,” Cosentino says. “You always have tomorrow to have a fresh perspective on life. At the end of the day, what was not meant to be a pandemic record, kind of became a pandemic record.”
Best Coast will play at 8pm on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the Catalyst Atrium, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $22. (831) 713-5492.