When it comes to music of the 1960s there is a clear divide between music lovers; The Beatles or The Beach Boys? If you look at the make-up of the Top 250 it is fairly easy to see that with The Beatles’ six entries versus this single one from The Beach Boys that there is no point to argue any more since we are now 40 years later and the critics have since spoken. Thing is, and this is personal opinion talking, The Beach Boys at their best blows The Beatles out of the water. Why? Pet Sounds gives you 13 reasons why.
I’ve listened to a lot of albums by The Beach Boys in my time (including Sunflower, Surfin’ USA, The Smile Sessions and Wild Honey) and I see that some of their material is a bit too flippant to be taken seriously. But then, you get the likes of ‘Good Vibrations’ where you just sit up and listen to the production values (hopefully on a decent sound-system). In fact, I really get why Pet Sounds is the only one to make it into the Top 250… and at #2 that’s pretty damned impressive.
Where in most of their albums The Beach Boys would have songs talking about their surf boards, cars or other very California things Pet Sounds resonates so much since it deals with topics that everyone can relate to. Love, self-doubt, failure, self-actualisation. A remarkably deep album which is somehow able to pull off with simple and accessible lyrics.
As an album that has been written about until the cows come home I feel as everything I think or say about this album is a retread of thousands of people who have come before me. With my own wedding coming up next year I am seriously giving serious thought to having ‘God Only Knows’ on as the first dance. It is the most beautiful song about love that has ever been written and in a very short space of time has two very clear ‘goose-bump moments’ for me. The first happens the moment the bass starts right near the beginning of the song and the second around the time the vocal layering comes in. The only thing preventing me from using ‘God Only Knows’ is that thanks to the opening sequence to Big Love I can only imagine this occurring using roller-blades…which is not going to happen so don’t ask.
Then there are other tracks like ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ where the concept of young teenager running off and getting married at Gretna Green now suddenly makes sense to me. It’s a beautifully hopeful opener which is then immediately lyrically dashed by the next two songs which deal with failure. This pattern repeats with the hopefulness of youth coupled with songs about realizing that, as we grow up, dreams will be unfulfilled, but hey these might have not have been the right dreams to have the first place so oh well.
It’s a complex album, and for one of the best albums ever made it has one of the worst album covers out there. I know it’s a play on the title Pet Sounds but… what’s the deal with all the bloody goats.