Monday, November 19, 2012

#121: The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)

The first Beach Boys album left me feeling underwhelmed, I have a feeling this one will be very different. I can't say enough for Brian Wilson's genius and I know that this is his masterpiece. Many publications have it listed as one of the greatest albums of all time and it inspired yet another greatest album of all time: the Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. It was written primarily by Wilson after he retired from touring to focus on writing.

Wouldn't It Be Nice
Right off the bat it's way better than their 'Today' album. The music is intricate, it's interesting, and the harmonies are not just big and full - but they're complex as well. The music complexity is raised to the n'th degree, it's an amazing change. There are tempo changes, the recording quality is far superior, but it's the harmonies that provide counter melodies that really make it amazing. Absolutely phenomenal.

God Only Knows
It's one of the most beautiful songs ever written. If you've never heard the song, it's an absolute must listen. What's amazing not only about this album but particularly about this song is the sheer genius of the work. It's unlike anything else before it's time, it's amazing how they can do so many things and yet keep it so fluid. While this album may be full of songs that are musically brilliant, this song matches it lyrically. That's why it's in a league of it's own, I could listen to it a hundred times in a row and still hear something new each and every time, but the main theme is still very concrete to someone listening for the first time.

Here Today
How could anyone's mind not be blown in 1966 listening to this record? It's so incredibly unique, it's amazing, it's unlike anything else before it. It's not like it's slightly better than everything else, it pummels the competition. While this record may carry a continuous Beach Boy theme (big harmonies) it's the complexity of the harmonies and the music that allows this record to flourish. Songs can sound somewhat similar but because of how deep and rich they are, you welcome the commonalities from track to track. For instance, the sax on this song is amazing and it's such a non-essential piece of the overall picture.

All in all, I don't know what else you could ask for from an album. Anything I say as a negative to this album would only be classified as extreme nitpicking. It's phenomenally written, it's phenomenally recorded, it's about as close to perfect as you can get. If we threw in points for historical relevance, this album would be off the charts. Forget being a Beach Boys fan, if you're a fan of music and you've never heard this album - you absolutely need to.

Tomorrow's album: The Fray's How To Save A Life.

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