It’s the swelteringly hot day of Best Coast’s headlining performance at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival, and frontwoman Bethany Cosentino is in the middle of explaining why the hazy title track off her new album, California Nights, isn’t shoegaze. “It just sounds like there’s a lot of effects on it,” she says, pushing through a rack of clothes at a Beacon’s Closet vintage store in the neighborhood. “To me it was more influenced by Led Zeppelin and Stone Roses, and Bobb [Bruno] says his guitar solo was inspired by Jane’s Addiction and Dave Navarro. Oh —” She holds up a t-shirt emblazoned with a visual portmanteau of Marilyn Manson and Marilyn Monroe. “I like this one. The Hot Topic tag is still hanging out of it!”
Though Cosentino still appreciates the suburban mall staple — much-derided by the hipsters who probably used to shop there — her fashion sense has gradually evolved from the Brazilian blow-outs and tube tops she once favored to haute couture and high-waisted undies (but never gaucho pants: “That’s not really my thing”). Best Coast’s music, on the other hand, has followed a slightly different trajectory: Cosentino and bandmate/musical life partner/guitarist Bobb Bruno recorded their relatively tepid sophomore effort, 2012’s The Only Place, with legendary songwriter Jon Brion — only to return to, while expanding upon, the homegrown jangle-pop about boys, beers, and weed that brightened 2010’s Crazy for You.
She owes much of her stylistic and musical evolution to the mere passage of time: releasing her debut at age 23 and finding herself again at age 28. Of course, she adds, that could also be due to Saturn’s return. “The planets realign to be where they were when you were born at age 27,” she says, fingering what appear to be leather athletic pants she is not theoretically opposed to wearing. “It’s a time of self-exploration and figuring out who you are and what you want. That’s very much the zone that I feel like I’m in now.”