Natural Disaster

Natural Disaster

Bethany Cosentino delivered her debut solo album Natural Disaster and the climate cooperated. “This is the hottest summer I can ever remember,” she declares on the title track, a refrain that hits especially close to home during a season of record-breaking temperatures everywhere. It’s also a fitting introduction to a collection of songs about facing down an uncertain future, which for Cosentino includes questioning her attitude toward love, motherhood, and her newfound solo career. Earlier this year, the singer-songwriter announced that Best Coast, the indie-pop duo she formed in 2009 with multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno, would be going on an indefinite hiatus. The decision presumably demanded some soul-searching. “Growing up is easy when you’re 17,” she sings on “Easy,” a standout piano ballad, “but now I’m 35 and I don’t quite know what it means.” Most of Natural Disaster was written during the pandemic, but Cosentino never sounds like she’s catastrophizing. The doomscrolling gets mixed with some sha la las. Fans of Best Coast already know her knack for disguising existential despair within the palm-tree breeze of her native California. Over the course of the band’s four lo-fi, reverb-heavy albums, she wrote about getting high (2010 debut Crazy for You), getting sober (2020’s Always Tomorrow), and being pleasantly depressed regardless. Still, she might have needed to get a little distance from her sunbaked reputation, hence ditching Los Angeles for Nashville to record with producer Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Weezer). The opening songs on Natural Disaster proudly follow in the footsteps of one of Cosentino’s personal heroes, Sheryl Crow. Vibrant ’90s-era guitar hooks amplify catchy, head-out-the-window choruses. “I know I’m not the only one/Can someone out there back me up?” she belts on the deeply Crow-esque “Outta Time.” Elsewhere, on “Real Life,” she opts for a ruminative, driving-down-the-highway-at-midnight vibe, lost in thought about the girl she used to be. She keeps with the confessionals until the beautifully spare closer, “I’ve Got News for You,” an unmistakable love letter to a potential life partner: “I’m so used to being lied to/It was all chaos before you.” But, of course, the person she is really making promises to has been with her all along. “I have worked so hard to find myself,” she sings in the last few seconds of the album. “I don’t want to give up on it now.”

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