Finally, the new Best Coast album is here. We've seen bleak midwinters, flooding and the rise in cider prices, so who better to remind us of the real meaning of summer than Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, replete with a bass guitar. Following the acrimonious scuffle over Ali Koehler's departure and ludicrous quotes floating around the recording of the duo's sophomore record, including the suggestion of a folk album, the resulting fare would be disappointingly predictable, if it wasn't so damn good.

After the perhaps unprecedented success of Crazy For You, which tapped into an honesty and naked vulnerability not heard, at least for me, since the perfection of Weezer's Pinkerton, this is an album which will attract the cliched 'mature' tag so often associated with that 'difficult second album', but there is still more than enough of the self-effacing, self-involved melancholia that won so many fans initially. Sonically richer and sharper, the addition of a bass part has been the unwitting blessing that Best Coast's debut may just have been missing, marking the logical step in the inevitable rise to domination of your summer playlists, giving a bouncier feel to the core of the album, whilst Bethany's Ronette's croon is as glorious is ever throughout. In fact, I think that this is the record which has really allowed her voice to be showcased, rather than rooted in the guitar hooks; the opportunity is there for genuinely beautiful singing where it could previously be dismissed as mere whining by the act's detractors. And there are detractors. Indeed, this album is nothing especially fresh and exciting, but I don't think that that has necessarily ever been the case with Best Coast, and the whole surfer-pop sensibility as a whole. Especially in the Bay Area, bands are marked out by personality and stories, rather than as a solely musically objective proposition. The very first line of the album, from title-track 'The Only Place', is "we were born with the sun in our teeth and in our hair," and you can demand nothing further from a band who make no pretence as to their craft; this is music for barbeques and the beach. And surfing, but that should go without saying here. It's not necessarily big, it's not particularly clever, but it's bloody good fun.

Lacking the distortion of their debut, The Only Place belies Best Coast's desire to respond the dramatic influx of lo-fi acts that they catalysed, as they look to keep their heads above water in an increasingly busy genre. Tracks such as 'Why I Cry' and 'Let's Go Home' jump perfectly into company with former singles like 'Boyfriend', whereas 'My Life' takes the daring step of leading with an acoustic guitar underlying the typical yearning vocal of Cosentino. I know, an acoustic number on a Best Coast album! And it works! Madness right?! 'Better Girl' really explores the necessity of the bass addition, jumping and popping its way through a track that sums up everything that the band represent, with the cymbal heavy drums and swooning sixties harmonies.

Perhaps it's not hugely inventive, but this is a catchy, fun record, and what more could you really ask for?