Let’s get a few things straight: Coast Modern are here for a good time. Their songs sound like a good time. And yes, their singer sounds uncannily like Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. That’s not a slight. Trust me.
On their eponymous debut, Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp take their influences - a little Beach Boys here, a little Weezer navel gaze there, and keep it rolling across 18 tracks. The result is something that’s an endlessly pleasurable listen, and they pull out all of the stops to keep it that way. On “Tiny Umbrella,” it’s pretty clear, with the line “So I’ma mix a little bit of this/with a little bit of that”. It’s an easy bit of electropop with synths, handclaps that bubble before a bursting chorus. It’s followed by the airhorns of “Guru” that sounds like an electronic reggae beat. “I want you to know that I’m still trying/You see through my bad/you know I have my moods/when I’m super low you pull me higher,” Trapp sings, as another voice sings the hook: “Baby, be my guru”. It’s the album’s most fun pure pop moment. “Dive” features some excellent shimmery 80’s guitars that carry the song with the propulsiveness of a great power pop song.
By the time you get to the claustrophobic “Yemma,” a 38 second interlude that sounds like Coast Modern’s first take at a trap beat, and it works. There’s just enough to pique your ear and keep you wondering where they’d take it. It’s a clever addition right in the middle of the album and hints they may have a future beat making. Not long after that is “Now I’m Cool,” an admirable Brian Wilson knockoff, while “Hollow Life” sounds like the soundtrack to a really bad trip. It’s a staggering shift from song to song.
There’s a lot going on Coast Modern, and that’s actually a really great thing. Atlas and Trapp have jam-packed their debut with a sonic potpourri of styles. It may not be sonically unified by any stretch, but that’s okay. Coast Modern can do a lot. They can make you dance, make you think, and take you down any road they please. It’s an excellent Choose-Your-Own-Adventure record. It will be exciting to see which path they take, if any of these. Maybe it’ll be something entirely different. They’ve got the goods to do whatever they want.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media
This review was written by Brendan Hilliard, of Obviate Media. Obviate Media is a Chicago-based blog covering music and pop culture. Check them out, here: Obviate Media.