Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

1966 – Capitol

Pop/ Rock/ Experimental

I’m just going to come right out and say here at the beginning that The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds is hands down just a magnificent record. From the opening piano jingling of Wouldn’t It Be Nice to the lamenting strains of Caroline No the whole thing is just a wonderfully composed and performed ode to vocal harmonies and the artistic merits of pop music.

The complex melodies of tracks like You Still Believe In Me and I Know There’s An Answer are just magical in the way they weave together and take hold of the listeners mind and soul. And the instrumentation is just divine in its almost orchestral sound with the band eschewing the traditional blues rock drums/bass/guitar line up in favour of pianos, vocals, and more unusual instrument like bass harmonica and Theremin. Really, for me, this album is pretty much perfect in terms of its music.

This record, to my mind, in also a perfect mix of artistic orchestration and straight up catchy pop melodies; it moves its way through a psychedelic jungle of sounds that rarely present themselves in the acid addled way of bands like Jefferson Airplane. The dog barks and train noises don’t come across as cheesy and likewise the well-worn pop ballad of Here Today sounds original and sincere in the context of the album.

It also manages to present a wonderful mixture of sweet sadness and music that just makes the listener incredibly happy, which is a very difficult thing to pull off. I mean, the way the group handle a track like the traditional Sloop John B is just magnificent in its heartfelt delivery that makes the listener sing smilingly along while weeping gently on the inside. And Caroline No is one of the most tenderly depressing of love songs that have ever been written, to my mind it is up there rivalling the likes of weepers written by Leonard Cohen or Marianne Faithful.

Really there’s not all that much that can be said about Pet Sounds that hasn’t been said before. I mean, the album did get the number two spot on the Rolling Stone Best Albums of All Time list, so you know it’s pretty well accepted as a masterpiece. But, in any case I felt that it merited my writing it up a review if only to let people who have never heard of this record know how mind-bogglingly amazing it is. I mean, if you don’t already own a copy then you have to rush out and buy it right now. I don’t care if The Beach Boys aren’t your usual cup of tea, or if you’re some kind of devout Slayer fanatic or really only listen to Gregorian chants, because this will still blow your mind, and I’m pretty sure that you won’t be able to resist loving it.

Seriously people, what are you waiting for? Go listen to Pet Sounds right now. I know I’m going to.

RATING: *****/5

Here is one of my personal favourite tracks from ‘Pet Sounds’


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