Bethany Cosentino's odes to teen life have always betrayed commercial aspirations more upwardly mobile than those of her peers. With aid from producer Jon Brion, the Best Coast frontwoman sheds her punkish moxie on their second, high-gloss album, while expanding her sonic palette to include strings, multitracked vocals, and Phil Spector's castanets. But Cosentino's feel-good vibes eventually give way to anxieties and insecurities: On "How They Want Me to Be," she exercises a Brian Wilson fixation by calling out her overbearing mom and friends. There are also moments on The Only Place when her angst gets so precious that it rings kinda false — like on "Up All Night," where she claims to be so heartbroken that she doesn't know what day or week it is. Please. What self-respecting girl isn't within arm's reach of her iPhone these days? — Justin Farrar
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