The fourth full-length album from Best Coast, Always Tomorrow, finally arrives 5 years after their last project, California Nights. While that album did not reach the same heights in the charts as their debut or sophomore efforts, it was, in my opinion, their best album to date. It showed a more developed sound and deeper lyrical content from the mind of Bethany Cosentino. What I loved across all three of Best Coast’s albums was how simple yet catchy their songs were. There was nothing too flashy in the drums or guitars, no intense vocal work, and no convoluted lyrics. Just a singer and her guitar dealing with topics of her life through songs. The sunny California vibes were strong across it all. Best Coast continues this trend but with another step up in quality and writing style, delivering what is, in my opinion, their best installment to date.
“Different Light” kicks things off with a jolt of upbeat, high-velocity fun. In its catchy riff and vocal melody, the track gives a very 90’s feel. It demands your attention and immediately sets the mood for the album, from a lyrical standpoint. Seeing things in a different light is exactly what Always Tomorrow is all about, as it largely deals with topics related to Cosentino’s sobriety. The next track “Everything Has Changed” literally opens with the line “I used to drink nothing but water and whiskey. Now I think those were the reasons why I used to fall deep down in a hole.” The simplicity yet weight behind these lyrics are most often what take Always Tomorrow to a higher tier. “Everything Has Changed” also has one of the more head-bobbing, foot-tapping, addictive verse structures in the album; and that chorus ain’t a chump either.
“For the First Time” opens with one of the cooler instrumental hooks we have heard from Best Coast. The whole style of this song would absolutely fit in the 80’s. Again, change and personal development is the prominent idea here (“Trying really hard, I’m trying harder than I ever have before… On Friday nights I don’t spend too much time lying on the bathroom floor like I used to”). The darker imagery depicted by these lyrics is masked by the bright and flowery instrumentals, giving the impression of waking up from the nightmare of those times.
“Graceless Kids” gives us the classic Best Coast sound, though it is one of the weaker tracks on Always Tomorrow. While it is not a bad song by any means, it just does not pack a punch like all of the first three tracks do.
“Wreckage”, “Rollercoaster”, and “Master of My Own Mind” pick things back up with fun jammy instrumentals and impressive vocal work from Cosentino. That is another point which was instantly noticeable with Always Tomorrow; the vocals have taken a big step up in terms of range and power. Cosentino really seems to be developing her sound with this project. One thing to note thus far in the album is that the choruses are not as instantly catchy as one might expect from a Best Coast album. They are, however, more impactful lyrically and hold high value in the relistening department.
“True” decreases the pace a bit with a dreamy, slow-tempo love song with splendid vocal work. It is a sweet, simple little piece that I found myself overlooking during the first listen through Always Tomorrow, but appreciated more and more with each relisten.
“Seeing Red” is the best track on the album. Every verse feels like a big hype-up into each chorus and, boy-howdy, does that chorus go. The jumpy break section of this one is also a lot of fun too, leading into the euphoric final chorus.
“Make it Last” and “Used to Be” finish out Always Tomorrow with even more of the summer aura we expect from Best Coast, complete with reverbed vocals and guitar. “Make it Last” brings that song-that-plays-over-a-montage feel, much like we got earlier with “Different Light”. “Used to Be” puts us into a floaty atmosphere of calming steadiness. The vocals towards the end are downright wonderful. It’s a damn near-perfect closer to what was a mostly quick-paced album.
In previous Best Coast albums, songs sometimes seemed to blend together across some of the “filler” tracks, but that is not the case here with Always Tomorrow. Every track caught my attention and stood out to me in one way or another. As the album with the most to say from this band, Always Tomorrow is Best Coast’s BEST (haha) and one I will absolutely be bumping when summer hits.
Best Tracks: Seeing Red, Different Light, Everything Has Changed, For the First Time
Weakest Tracks: Graceless Kids, True
Overall Score: A-