Listen to Coast Arcade’s new debut EP ‘Next To Me’

Auckland Coast Arcade offer vivid portraits of young love on new debut EP Next To Me, arriving just in time for New Zealand music month. 

Coast Arcade have released their debut EP Next To Me. A five-track collection of pop-punk gems, the project serves as a worthy culmination of the Auckland band’s years-long presence on festival lineups and as support acts for a host of starry names. While Coast Arcade’s consistent hustle in the scene since their 2021 formation is laudable, Next To Me feels like an arrival, and is all-but certain to gain the quartet their deserved place in a spotlight that’s all their own. 

Next To Me opens with its title track, which pairs screechy guitar strums with the angelic vocals of lead singer Bella Bavin. In between grungy asides courtesy of bassist Nate Tims, Bavin sings of a muse who “gets me high”, as punctuated by drummer Thom Boynton’s thunderous percussion. 

Coast Arcade EP 'Next To Me'

Later, Bavin leaves space for a melodic guitar solo which makes for an anthemic final chorus. “It’s everything I need,” Bavin pines, “I won’t leave as long as he’s here next to me.” There’s a nostalgic quality to Coast Arcade’s instrumentation, with the kind of aughties punk attitude that you might hear on the soundtrack of your favourite teen movie. That energy continues on Highest Heights, with a lead line so earwormy you’ll be humming it for days. 

Once again forefronting punchy rhythms and an optimistic take on young romance, Highest Heights translates the euphoria of a crush into song. “I’m drunk on love, running out of space,” Bavin croons as the production swells around her on the chorus, “a love like this is worth more than gold.” Like any pop-punk banger, Highest Heights features a quieter bridge that later erupts into Bavin’s belting performance, with backing sing-along vocals ensure the track’s readiness for a live audience. 

Coast Arcade EP 'Next To Me'

Coast Arcade slow down proceedings on Salty Blonde, which again sets its sights on a desirable muse with the addition of gentler guitar strums. There’s a romance to the band’s sound here, which is not to say that Salty Blonde is devoid of the head-banging noisiness of previous entries. Guided by Chris Tims’ rhythm guitar and later aided by Boynton’s backing harmonies, the track brings a welcome change of pace without sacrificing the punky edge. 

Offering a warm slice of summer, penultimate track Surf Club fittingly finds Coast Arcade at their fuzziest, with shimmering guitar strings and the kind of instrumentation that might soundtrack a daydream on a sunny afternoon. Singing of the beach as a form of escape, Bavin pines for salt water rejuvenation as gradually ascending drums make way for a sonic release. “Hold the water to my face,” she sings, “and pray it all just goes away.” 

Coast Arcade EP 'Next To Me'

The summery feel continues on EP closer Just Peachy, which is every bit as resplendent as its title suggests. Perhaps the EP’s heaviest-hitter, the track begins with twangy, sunlit guitars before blooming into a screechy wave of trebled instrumentation. The sonic equivalent of pretending to be fine, Just Peachy sees Bavin lament the irks of her partner — whom she bitingly calls “a prick” —  before half-heartedly assuring us she’s feeling “just peachy.” 

Like the tracks before it, Just Peachy offers a vivid portrait of the throes of young love, with the EP as a whole offering vignettes of growing up, stuffing up and breaking up. The tracklist remains universal despite the diary-like intimacy of its lyrics, with Coast Arcade establishing themselves as voices of a generation. 

Next To Me was previewed by the singles Highest Heights and Surf Club. Prior to that, the band shared their debut single Tattoo in 2022, and elsewhere opened shows for the likes of The Beths, Bootleg Rascals and The Grogans.

Listen to Coast Arcade’s new EP Next To Me below.