“This album is perfect.”
However, I am not given to brevity, so I will be expanding that review to varying degrees of verbosity.
This album is perfect because…
And where their earlier material rode the waves of West-Coast beach culture and a nation’s desire to party, Pet Sounds finds them diving into personal waters for the first time. There’s a self-doubt that pervades Wilson’s lyrics, even on the love songs (“I may not always love you…” starts God Only Knows). While tracks like I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times and Don’t Talk (Lay Your Head On My Shoulder) are easily identified as sad songs, other, bouncier tracks are a bit more deceptive. Here Today, with its raucous orchestra and delayed bass solo, tricks you into letting the top down and singing along–until you realize he’s warning his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend about what a Jezebel she is. In fact, only Wouldn’t It Be Nice and the cover Sloop John B showcase purely optimistic lyrics; the rest of the songs are more complex, like the ballads You Still Believe In Me and I’m Waiting For The Day. Without exaggeration, this is the saddest happy record I have ever heard.
When all is said and done, The Beach Boys haven’t made too extravagant a statement. None of the songs last much longer than three minutes, nor is there any experimental tinkering in the studio (not to discount the round-about process Wilson used to actually record the album). They simply made a pop record with lush orchestration and wonderful songs. But, it was (and remains) the Greatest Pop Record.