Natural Disaster, the debut solo album by Best Coast’s Bethany Casentino, should inspire listeners who find themselves stuck in a rut or unsure of themselves to see what else life has to offer. That’s especially true of those who’ve lived a fast life like she has, folks who look up one day, and more than a decade has flashed before their eyes.
Cosentino explored similar thoughts and expressed much personal growth on Best Coast’s previous album, 2020’s Always Tomorrow. Although it wasn’t explicitly an album about sobriety, therapy, or growing into one’s 30s, Always Tomorrow was inspired by all those life changes she was experiencing.
All the related anxieties and other growing pains flood to the fore on Natural Disaster: feeling like you don’t have enough time (“If not now, then tell me when / ‘Cause I’m only human / And I don’t wanna run out of time,” Cosentino sings on “Outta Time”) but also finding more and more reason to take (and enjoy) life day by day, moment by moment; as Cosentino sings on “In My Own City,” “I don’t want to stay the same / We were born to change/ And you can fight it, but you figure out it’s gonna happen anyway.” And she’s right: you might as well enjoy life as it is while it lasts, while remaining open to the future.
On “Easy,” Cosentino speaks to unrealized expectations because she was busy barreling through life, “out there chasing fires” and “getting caught up with vampires,” which can take many forms, especially in the music industry. “I always thought I’d be a mother / With a purpose to discover / But the clouds cover me,” she continues, though the tone is more reflective than regretful.
Some moments on Natural Disaster might sound like resignation, passiveness, or acceptance on first listen, but there is, as is often the case with Cosentino’s music, a sense that everything is, or will be, okay, or that she is fine with letting go. Consider “It’s Fine,” for example, where she sings, “Stop myself when I realize it’s not worth it” and “It’s fine until it’s not fine,” aware, likely through trial and tribulation, that there’s a breaking point to complacency and compromise.
Natural Disaster is a breath of fresh air for Cosentino, carrying an undeniable country pop twinge. The stormy “Real Life” recalls a folk sensibility hinted at I’m Best Coast’s choice of song cover, Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon,” even though her and Bobb Bruno’s version was far jauntier. “Easy” is an easy highlight, a piano ballad with acoustic and slide guitar. Then there’s the starry-eyed “Hope You’re Happy Now.” Mid-tempo acoustic strummer “It’s Fine” is about as country as it gets, but still not as much as unapologetically county pop rocker “Calling All Angels.” Yet Natural Disaster shouldn’t be pigeon-holed as her country album. There are still plenty of gigantic rock riffs, surfy, sunny, endlessly melodic, explosive, and tidal.
As much introspection as a person goes through, it’s hard to ignore the literal fires around us, let alone the internal ones that rage inside us. “This is the hottest summer I can ever remember ‘cause the world is on fire / And hey, if we’re all dyin’, then what does it matter?” Cosentino asks on the title track. And on “A Single Day,” she sings, “If the whole thing is going down / And ending like they say / Well, we better live a million lifetimes / In a single day.”
Wherever the world writ large ends up, today and in the immediate moments to follow, Bethany Cosentino sounds like she’s landed in a grounded, stable place on Natural Disaster.
Pre-order Natural Disaster by Bethany Cosentino HERE
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