Pop gets meditative; maintains it’s groove. Coast Modern is a pop album through and through, a bottled up West Coast daydream.
At a brisk 50 minutes, you would expect it to fly by. But Coast Modern pulls off this trick of stretching time out—and not in a way that makes it drag. They achieve an odd stoner-nirvana by making three minutes feel so full it could easily be five or ten.
Coast Modern brings you to a state of being present. The most successful songs put you firmly into your skin. The lyrics hook onto terms that evoke texture and feeling; the layered production seems to surround you and move your body.
A song like “Dive” blows through your hair like a reckless breeze and cools on your skin in the summer heat. “Now I’m Cool” goes in and out of focus as if you were already past listening, just moving your body around, at home in the skin you’re in.
Coast Modern’s sound, oddly enough, reminds me of the animator Ralph Bakshi. (Maybe it’s all the visualizers?) Bakshi is darker and moodier than Coast Modern could ever claim to be, but they both approach their endpoints in similar ways.
They cover familiar subject matter through means that make it feel new; their work has texture to it and liveliness that’s both surreal and accurate. It makes the experience of absorbing the album revitalizing, not in the uncanny way of Bakshi, but in a distinctly Coast Modern-y way.
But Coast Modern doesn’t demand anything from you. You can play this in the background, dance to it, inspect the lyrics and textures that lie beneath the uptempo energy on display, do what you please.
The album succeeds on the basis that it never tries to be anything more than it is; it asserts that we all be what we are. It’s odd, it’s quite messy and unorganized, it doesn’t really gel together, but it all works by being so earnest. The moments where Coast Modern transcends its pop-ness are the moments where it can most fully explore what pop is. It doesn’t need to posture seriousness or pare itself down, it merely is.
A song like “Guru” takes the “great women change men for the better” genre and subtly subverts it by looking honestly at what it’s saying. It adopts a co-dependent trope and shifts the focus more towards the way love and admiration for others can be an impetus for change and improvement in ourselves. And it recognizes how hard it is to change oneself. But it does this all within the trappings of a feel-good beach jam strung along by a simple guitar riff.
Or something like “Pogs and Slammers,” probably my favorite track on the album, which describes a game of pogs on a hot summer day in lurid detail. Of course, there’s a cute girl involved, a great dick joke, and of course, it doesn’t go anywhere. Why would it?
Coast Modern is committed to the simple idea of being honest in their work. A noble pursuit, and the glue that holds this erratic album together. It may not combine into one clear, cohesive form, but it feels like every part comes from the same messy place. And it’s ok to be messy—its kind of cool as hell sometimes.