12 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Essence of California, distilled, clarified, and boiled down to 40 minutes of pure pop pleasure: The Coast Is Never Clear is an unjustly ignored masterpiece of musical mad science. Singer Miles Kurosky writes gorgeously textured orchestral pop that builds on a base of Pavement-style guitar rock, borrows from the Beach Boys, Burt Bacharach, and Herb Alpert, then — what the hell — throws in hints of lounge, bossa nova, punk, and country, setting the whole over bitterly ironic lyrics delivered with a cynic’s detachment. It’s a heady mixture, equal parts sun and smog. “Gene Autry” juxtaposes fuzzed-out guitars, cheerfully tinkling piano, strings, and mariachi-style horns with a chiming bell that announces the world’s chipperest downer of a chorus: “When the city spreads out, just like a cut vein/ Everybody drowns, sad and lonely.” The countrified lope of “Popular Mechanics for Lovers” morphs into 60s bubblegum at the chorus and smirkily references Stephin Merritt in a verse before lapsing into apparent sincerity as the production drops down to just piano and reverb-y voice. Just about every song on here performs the same kind of aural gymnastics. Trumpet, flute, tambourine, handclaps, sun-kissed harmonies, and irresistible hooks: it might all be too clever by half, were it not for the immaculate production—and the occasional lyric that reaches out, grabs you by the shoulders, and gives a little shake: “I don’t know about God/ But I believe in you.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Essence of California, distilled, clarified, and boiled down to 40 minutes of pure pop pleasure: The Coast Is Never Clear is an unjustly ignored masterpiece of musical mad science. Singer Miles Kurosky writes gorgeously textured orchestral pop that builds on a base of Pavement-style guitar rock, borrows from the Beach Boys, Burt Bacharach, and Herb Alpert, then — what the hell — throws in hints of lounge, bossa nova, punk, and country, setting the whole over bitterly ironic lyrics delivered with a cynic’s detachment. It’s a heady mixture, equal parts sun and smog. “Gene Autry” juxtaposes fuzzed-out guitars, cheerfully tinkling piano, strings, and mariachi-style horns with a chiming bell that announces the world’s chipperest downer of a chorus: “When the city spreads out, just like a cut vein/ Everybody drowns, sad and lonely.” The countrified lope of “Popular Mechanics for Lovers” morphs into 60s bubblegum at the chorus and smirkily references Stephin Merritt in a verse before lapsing into apparent sincerity as the production drops down to just piano and reverb-y voice. Just about every song on here performs the same kind of aural gymnastics. Trumpet, flute, tambourine, handclaps, sun-kissed harmonies, and irresistible hooks: it might all be too clever by half, were it not for the immaculate production—and the occasional lyric that reaches out, grabs you by the shoulders, and gives a little shake: “I don’t know about God/ But I believe in you.”

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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
23 Ratings

23 Ratings

Breached Accessory ,

Beulah's Best Album

All Music Guide gave this album four and a half stars out of five. Why deprive them of that last half star? This album is brilliant from start to finish and deserves a full five stars.

The cleverness of this album can be encapsulated by this mini-review so I will not even try. Beulah's best album and one of the top albums of the 21st century so far.

daveshac ,

Gold

Beulah's sound defies simple definition. "California Rock" doesn't do this justice. The kinds of people who LOVE this album are the kind of folks who like lots of different styles. If your musical tastes are varied, then this disc is an absolute must-own.

BeulahHearter ,

Wow! An awesome third album

Easily the best album of 2001, absolutely no competition. Each song is amazing and catchy and beautiful. Listen to this once, get hooked in. Over the next fifty spins, grow to love it. Perfect West Coast pop infused with rock and a ton of other styles. This album is easy to love, with great lyrics and greater tunes. Buy it right now, every minute you live without is another wasted minute.

Perfect and amazing.

Get it now!

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