With Finest Coast on Hiatus, Bethany Cosentino Is Making an attempt One thing New

Bethany Cosentino was having an id disaster. It was early 2020 and the pandemic had abruptly pressured Cosentino’s band, Finest Coast, to chop brief a tour in assist of their newest album, All the time Tomorrow. Pressured to advertise the document whereas caught at house, Cosentino grew to become unable to disregard the creeping sense that one thing in her life was off. She briefly thought-about quitting music fully, enrolling in a psychology course with the intention of turning into a therapist. “I in a short time realized that there’s a cause why I dropped out of faculty twice,” Cosentino, 36, quips over a video name from her Los Angeles abode.

Throughout these unsure early months of the pandemic, Cosentino and her bat-eared rescue canine, Josie, discovered a routine in taking lengthy hikes across the metropolis. Their soundtrack was by the music of Cosentino’s youth, earlier than she found punk: singer-songwriters like Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt in addition to ’90s nation pop artists together with Sheryl Crow, the Chicks, and Religion Hill. Crow was an particularly brilliant North Star—a promotional poster for her 1993 debut Tuesday Night time Music Membership occupies distinguished actual property on the wall of Cosentino’s house workplace. With no actual vacation spot in thoughts, Cosentino started writing songs impressed by these ladies, an train which might develop into her solo debut, Pure Catastrophe.

Looking back, Cosentino got here to grasp the discomfort that led her to the psychology class because the intuitive recognition that she was chafing in opposition to the confines of Finest Coast, the mission that had outlined her life since she was 22. “I’m a giant non secular bitch and I noticed it as an indication from the universe that I wanted to discover a unique aspect of myself,” she says. Which isn’t to counsel that she hadn’t tried prior to now. Throughout 4 albums, Finest Coast’s sound advanced from lo-fi slacker anthems about all-consuming infatuation to hook-driven rock songs with lyrics that mirrored Cosentino’s rising self-reflection.


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However time and time once more Cosentino felt dragged again in direction of a youthful persona, which she describes as “a 22-year-old who appreciated weed and cats and boys and California.” This model of herself is preserved in amber on Finest Coast’s stoned and sunny 2010 debut, Loopy for You. She had fashioned Finest Coast only one yr earlier, after dropping out of faculty in New York and transferring house to L.A. to make music.

Pushed by on-line buzz, the document was a crucial and industrial success and peaked at no. 36 on the Billboard 200, a uncommon feat for indie musicians. However the acclaim was double-edged—Cosentino’s public visibility and persona made her a goal of sexist on-line criticism. Cosentino doesn’t should be reminded of what was written—she learn all of the feedback. “I knew that I used to be rhyming ‘loopy,’ ‘lazy,’ and ‘child’ over and over,” she says with exasperation in reference to those that interpreted Finest Coast’s jangly melodies as amateurish slightly than intentional nods to ’60s surf rock bands like The Seaside Boys.

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Cosentino performing with Finest Coast in 2014.

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A extra sophisticated criticism was that the romantic relationship on the coronary heart of Loopy for You glorified a retrograde model of feminism outlined by codependency and emotional withholding. Cosentino admits that on the time, she didn’t give a lot thought to the critiques. “My means of arguing again then was simply to be like ‘fuck you.’ “I wasn’t a lot of a crucial thinker, I used to be largely stoned and on Twitter,” she says. “However I undoubtedly didn’t should be known as a few of these issues just because I sang a music about how I beloved a boy.”

Cosentino now has sufficient take away from that point of her life to have the ability to grapple with a extra nuanced actuality. A breakthrough second arrived in 2022, when Finest Coast celebrated tenth anniversaries of Loopy for You (albeit delayed by Covid) and 2012’s The Solely Place with a pair of live shows in Los Angeles. “Relearning these information was the primary time that I had actually sat with the music and listened to my youthful self. I didn’t know that I used to be in a lot ache,” she says. “I needed to emulate a sound and pay tribute to feminine artists who had been writing about tortured love, like Lesley Gore and the Supremes, however I used to be additionally capturing my lived expertise. None of that album is romantic.”

“Songwriting has all the time been the best way during which I navigate having huge emotions on the planet and writing for Finest Coast felt like a survival tactic,” she continues. “I now really feel like I can select what I write about, and the way, as a result of I’ve the instruments to course of issues internally, I’ve an excellent therapist, and I’ve wholesome relationships and limits, all issues that I didn’t have again then.”

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Shervin Lainez

Cosentino mentioned that constructing this steady bedrock for herself has inspired her to confide in new experiences, together with ones she had closed herself off from prior to now. Pure Catastrophe was produced by Butch Walker, whom Cosentino first met in her mid-20s when she was making an attempt to select a producer for Finest Coast’s third album, California Nights. “I used to be very cussed and I didn’t need somebody to return in and reshape my songs,” Cosentino says. “Quick ahead 10 years, and I now really feel very inclined to permit a number of new individuals into this course of. What do I’ve to lose?”

At Walker’s Nashville studio, the pair bonded over their abundance of tattoos—Cosentino’s embody the phrase “peaceable simple feeling” inked on her arm—in addition to a shared love of Fall Out Boy and Lucinda Williams. Their Southern locale seeped into the album’s sound, leading to a mix of rock and nation pop that, delightfully, locations Cosentino’s voice within the highlight. “Firstly of Finest Coast, I felt just like the music I used to be making meant that I used to be alleged to be a subpar singer and that we would have liked to drench my vocals in reverb,” she explains. Her singing prowess grew to become extra distinguished with every successive document and for Pure Catastrophe she needed to go “balls to the wall” vocally.

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She channeled her childhood opera coaching on the large mid-album spotlight “For a Second.” Written after the sudden demise of an acquaintance’s companion, the music captures Pure Catastrophe’s central query: If nothing is assured, what’s the purpose of something? Throughout 12 tracks, Pure Catastrophe explores that line of pondering throughout uncertainties each world and private. The title observe confronts the local weather disaster and the temptation to undergo apathy—references to excessive warmth abound throughout the document. “Outta Time,” a contemporary response to Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time,” explores the societal expectations positioned upon ladies. Equally, the soulful “Simple” explores the confusion that colours Cosentino’s want for motherhood. Poignantly, Cosentino by no means forces concrete solutions from these topics. “Whereas making this document I noticed that I’ve spent the vast majority of my life dwelling in black and white,” she says. Shifting ahead, she needs to embrace a “grey mindset” the place despair and hope can intermingle just like the gooey blobs inside a lava lamp.

Pure Catastrophe by no means sugarcoats the truth that it’s exhausting to belief that every part’s going to be okay, even through the happiest components of life. On the album’s remaining observe, the barebones piano ballad “I’ve Acquired Information for You,” Cosentino—who bought engaged in June—writes concerning the concern that her vulnerability will solely finish in heartache and wonders if her companion feels the identical means. Because the music builds to a gut-wrenching perception—“I’ve labored so exhausting to search out myself / I don’t wanna quit on it now”—it turns into clear that the one method to honor this progress is to dive into the unknown. But it surely by no means will get simpler to belief that the touchdown will stick. “I might be the primary particular person to let you know that not I’m not a threat taker, I’m the lady that goes to the identical 4 eating places again and again,” Cosentino says. However stepping out of her consolation zone over the previous three years has helped her acknowledge that she’s taken some huge dangers all through her life. In a means, it’s a full-circle second: “I didn’t come again to L.A. anticipating for Finest Coast to develop into my profession,” Cosentino says. “However I additionally believed in myself sufficient to take the leap.”

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Quinn Moreland is a Brooklyn-based author. Her work has appeared in Pitchfork, The New York Occasions, The Nation, and extra.