The Dark Side of California Surf
Thus far, 2013 seems to be all about reunions and new beginnings for storied artists that haven’t put forth musical offerings in a while. Included in this bunch is ’80s/’90s indie and alt rock outfit Camper Van Beethoven with their first release in nearly ten years, La Costa Perdida.
The album itself is an amalgam of the California sunshine pop, ska, and acid rock influences that have been featured prominently throughout their career. Perhaps because of the album’s connection to Big Sur and Northern Cal, La Costa Perdida sounds like a long surf jam session that ventures into darker territories on occasion.
Songs such as “Northern California Girls,” “La Costa Perdida” and “Come Down the Coast” sound like an offering from the middle aged Beach Boys. These songs interspersed between markedly darker fare such as “You Got to Roll” and “Someday Our Love Will Sell Us Out” give the album an aura of mystery – like The Doors only less comprehensible. Lead singer and former Cracker frontman David Lowry’s vocals switch between a grainy pop whine and a sinister snark. This is most apparent on song, “Too High for the Love-In” which features a random infusion of the snarling lyrics, “Bring to me the anti-venom / and make me a sandwich.” The song itself is both unsettling and confusing.
La Costa Perdida is an album that is not crossing any boundaries for an already established band. After such a long hiatus, it seems to be more of an album put out for the sheer desire of a creative outlet than for making a dramatic musical message to revamp Camper’s career.