Monday, June 4, 2007

No. 2: Pet Sounds

Band: The Beach Boys

Album: Pet Sounds

Why Rolling Stone gets it right: “Pet Sounds” is beautifully melodic and shows a marked departure from earlier car song nonsense. Harmony-wise, it's hard to beat; Only Simon and Garfunkel really did anything close. The production is amazing and featured sounds not totally heard of in rock and roll.

Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It's not that good. They did a lot of things, production-wise, but it's still just a whole lot of four-part harmony with no real edge.

Best song: “Wouldn't it be Nice”

Worst song: “Pet Sounds” Why have an instrumental song when you have such great singers?

Is it awesome?: Eh. I'm not on the “Pet Sounds” train.

Supposedly, “Pet Sounds” was written and recorded in response to “Revolver.” That's all good and well, but I clearly don't get it. I'm 26 and my music fandom is steeped in the Beatles, as that's all my parents played around me as a kid. I like the big two songs “God Only Knows” and “Wouldn't it be Nice?” are great love songs, but I guess I'm immune to the production nonsense that makes this record so important, I guess. I've heard more impressively recorded records than this one. Sorry.

To be honest, I think the love for the record comes from two things:

  • It was such a departure for the Beach Boys
  • We all love a troubled genius

Brian Wilson essentially went nuts making this album and I think people like to think the record is great because of that. Troubled=great, in a lot of people's minds, I guess. Well-adjusted people don't make great records, I guess (see Cobain, Kurt for an example).

Yes, it's wonderful, but it's not the second-best album of all time. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right on this one RJ. The Beach Boys were a great band, but this album has a lot of filler. Maybe if it had "Good Vibrations" I'd feel differently.

But to be the No. 2 album? The No. 1 American album? It's hard to put this ahead of "Born to Run" or "Tangled Up in Blue"

-- DT

fft said...

Perfect example of an album that sounded really great/important when it came out that you wouldnt buy if it came out today.

That said, let me argue that this is truly a great album. To me, its more about the mood and the tone it sets rather than the songs itself. A little like Astral Weeks. There's a real sense of honesty and innocence in the songs that trancends the songs itself. This isnt something that I listen to every day but for me its more of a mood piece. For this reason it falls into the "influencer" catgory, sort of like the Ramones.

Also the recording techniques are historically important. This was all done in analog before any tech existed, so while it doesnt sound like much by today's standards it was a pretty big deal then. A lot like Dark Side of the Moon.

So net-net, I can agree why it shouldnt necessarily be #2 by today's standard but I do think its an awesome, awesome album.

Orwelle said...

Brian Wilson didn't go insane making this album, he went insane making Smile.