When you’re young, you’re impressionable. Everything is glorious, everything is horrible, and everything is new. As a kid watching American teen comedies from the late nineties, the cultural narrative of a homogenous bunch of suburban kids moving on to a college somewhere in the Midwest was normalized and idealized. And I’m smacked in the face with this romantic world view when I listen to Bestie’s self-released debut album, No Bad Days. An East Vancouver act that took third place in the Peak Performance Project last year, none of the four members have studied in the Midwest, as far as I can tell, but their desire to make fun songs that people can dance to results in music fit for a freshmen party on campus. And damn, does it ever make you nostalgic for things that never happened to you.
No Bad Days is a day-drinking album to put on repeat. It glorifies “hakuna matata” and makes believe that youth is eternal. “Asleep on the Bus” and “Afraid of the Dark” are songs meant for perpetually sunny days. They are cheerful, uplifting, and almost forgettable in that sense. It’s almost inappropriate to say this about songs in which the lyrical content is not exactly optimistic and carefree – “Asleep on the Bus” is about yearning for someone to the point that life is tasteless most of the time. Yet the beauty of youth is its belief in personal invincibility. Playing with shimmering guitar riffs courtesy of guitarist Andrew Janczewski, Bestie might make you feel sad, but never for long. The promise that things are going to get better is always there.
The positivity that Bestie exudes on this record is genuine, and it shows whether it’s in their decision to have a bro dog being handfed an ice cream cone as their cover art or naming songs after Saved By the Bell characters, such as “Kelly Kapowski”. A song with a spic-and-span whistling sample, “Kelly Kapowski” is another gorgeous guitar melody filled to the brim with excitement. A love letter to Kelly, it’s followed by “Allison I’ll Listen”, another song about a girl. “Allison” features a great hook that comes together with Tristan Orchard’s vocals really hitting a chord with the listener: “See I still think about you every day when you broke my heart and went away. Allison, look so high. Allison, I’ve been so high. Allison, good bye.”
“Pineapple” and “Sriracha”, acting as bookends on No Bad Days, take on a tropical flair that is the cause of a not unjust amount of comparisons to Vampire Weekend. And it might be tempting to compare the two bands, but Bestie, like Vampire Weekend, has range. Bestie is capable of straight-up adult alternative rock in songs like “Fell in Love with a Stripper” and “Foolish Hearts”, but it cannot be denied that it’s their other songs that are most intriguing about Bestie.