It was a night for the girls on stage at Oxford Art Factory with only Best Coast’s Bob Bruno representing the male form. Super Wild Horses were up first and though they seemed tentative and a little thin on sound for the first few songs they quickly built up a great vibe with their Sonic Youth guitar tones and sometimes chanting, sometimes singing voices. They sit firmly in that indie meets 60s pop field and once they got going they sounded fantastic.
When a band sounds bad (often no fault of their own) it can be a real downer on a gig. You can hear the songs are there, the band is giving it their all and they’re playing well but the mix can bury all of that in frustration. For most of Best Coast’s set that was exactly the problem. The guitars and drums seemed to sit in one place and Bethany Cosentino’s voice sounded like it was crudely slapped on top of the instruments – too loud and devoid of any warmth or softness. Again this was no fault of hers as her songs are packed with vocals and she managed to nail nearly everything.
With one album there was always going to be some extra stuff added to the list and that came in the form of some new songs and extended parts to a few other songs. Of the couple of new ones, they were in the same mold as the album but perhaps a bit more sugar rush and less cutesy prom romance. When You Wake Up from their recent split EP with Wavves sounded nice and rolling like a Lemonheads song while the early single of 2009 Something In The Way skipped along with the effortless melodies Cosentino has such a knack for.
As a result of the sound or perhaps Monday-itis, the audience never went nuts, even struggling to muster a clap-along to songs that are perfect for gay abandon and unrestrained dancing. The band didn’t care though, they tore through nearly 20 songs in an hour and seemed to be having a great time. If anything, Cosentino got a little over exuberant with her singing – pushing the lyrics out with too much force and farther from the sweetness of the album.
Their best moments came with Boyfriend, the slow /fast When I’m With You and the bittersweet The Deal. They captured the lost summer/fleeting romance feel of the record and songs as great as that can even transcend a dodgy sound mix.
this review first appeared in Drum Media