Pet Sounds (studio album) by The Beach Boys
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Pet Sounds is ranked as the best album by The Beach Boys.
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|Rating||Date updated||Member||Album ratings||Avg. album rating|
|5 hours ago||axilleas99||381||64/100|
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This album is rated in the top 1% of all albums on BestEverAlbums.com. This album has a Bayesian average rating of 87.9/100, a mean average of 86.8/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 88.0/100. The standard deviation for this album is 15.6.
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One of the best albums of all time, grows on you with every listen.
The rhetoric around 1966's Pet Sounds tends to be reduced to white noise these days due to the sheer volume that said rhetoric embodies. Brian Wilson's first pet project got praised to the heavens long before he attempted his hand at a teenage symphony to God. However, it would be dishonest to champion the unbridled success that Pet Sounds is without applauding the contributions of Wilson's fellow Beach Boys, whose creative input and vocal dexterity helped shape the spine of the record. Yes, Pet Sounds is and remains a supermassive footprint in the annals of popular music that remains uneroded by the passage of time. However, for me, a self-diagnosed diehard of a group that presently gets reduced to karaoke duty on seniors night at the local tavern (which is shame considering the remarkable legacy of The Beach Boys), the album represents something far different. It's a vivid snapshot of an ensemble that was firing on all cylinders, with (nearly) all of the Beach Boys full committed to Brian's madcap and daring artistic direction. A unshackled, fully energized Wilson, with help from the Wrecking Crew, captained a forward thinking, yet classically aligned project that would forever dwarf the rest of the band's output. Most importantly, the end product paints a picture of one of the last times that the Beach Boys were truly happy as a unit. This headspace helped produce the most beautiful pop album of all time.
The illustrious record begins with 12-string guitar twangs of "Wouldn't It Be Nice", a daydream yearning for romantic freedom, away from the restraints of being a youth. It's a premise seemingly rooted in the early days of the band, born of the triad of cars, girls and surfing. However, the lyrics mark a noticeable schism between eras, abandoning the face value nature of "Girls on the Beach" and "Fun, Fun, Fun" while having more in common with the metaphorical complexity of "In My Room" and "Surfer Girl". Here, Wilson opts to live through his fantasies as opposed to acknowledging a murky future, a grim harbinger for the minimal staying power of young love, packaged within one of the most genial melodies in the band's canon. It's a formula that the Boys would employ later down the line in much darker, less disguised LP's. Track two, "You Still Believe in Me", commences with one of music's most tear-inducing introductions. The gorgeous prepared piano motif shimmers with fragility as the strings are plucked. Amidst the tempo changes, Wilson employs bike horns and harpsichord bathed in the trademark Beach Boys harmonies. The track celebrates the power of unconditional adoration and forgives the fallibility of human beings. "That's Not Me" deals with internal deliberation and self-diagnosis. Dennis Wilson's drums propel the track as lead vocals from Mike Love detail the prioritization of career success and remaining true to one's self. Track four, "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)" embodies the simplest song on the record thus far in terms of thematic weight. However, the piece lends itself to projection from the listener, offering a figurative shoulder to rest on during their own personal strife. It's a song of considerable intimacy, perpetually cascading downwards as considerate cymbal strikes and bass ease the listener into tranquility.
Track Five, "I'm Waiting for the Day" emphasizes emotional patience and perseverance as a bombastic drum sequence outlines the uptempo cut. The statement here is one of poignant understanding and the value of following your heart in lieu of settling. The dynamic nature of the track is exemplified as drums and woodwinds simultaneously flurry between vociferous and restrained passages. The album arrives at its first instrumental with "Let's Go Away for Awhile", a piece that Brian Wilson has called the "most satisfying of his life". The track smolders to start, escalating with precise drum hits as horns and strings hover carefully underneath. The final track of the first side owes its inclusion to Al Jardine, who pushed for Brian to record the song. What came of it was a remarkably vibrant, twinkling rendition of a well-traveled folk tune. Another appearance of the doubletracked bass provides "Sloop John B" with punch and affirms the song's place as one of the more jolly excursions on Pet Sounds. It also provides respite from the introspective nature of the tracks preceding it. It echoes the Beach Boys of the past, armed with a newfound sonic complexity and whimsy. Residing in the eighth spot on the record is a landmark, spawning a life of its own, far beyond the context of Pet Sounds as a whole. Hyperbole aside, "God Only Knows" remains the centerpiece of Pet Sounds, equal parts innocent, melodramatic and brilliant. Sleigh Bells kiss the air as Carl Wilson's vocals leave nothing to the imagination. The string arrangement that permeates throughout envelopes the piece in a cocoon of sonic sublimity, acting as a conduit for the emotional heft of Wilson and Asher's lyrics.
Brian Wilson details his enlightenment during an LSD trip in a track that was originally known as "Hang On to Your Ego". What we now know as "I Know There's an Answer" marks somewhat of kaleidoscope of sonic flavor on the record, exemplified by a bass harmonica solo and hammond organ. The track initially dealt with the dangers of relying on LSD to pacify your troubles. After some internal pushback, Wilson and Terry Sachen were forced to rewrite. However, inklings of the original intent have remained. "They come on like they're peaceful, but inside they're so uptight; They trip through their day and waste all their thoughts at night." Tenth Track, "Here Today" partially subverts the themes of "I'm Waiting for the Day" while never compromising the latter's significance. This time, Wilson paints a picture of a cautionary tale of love for love's sake. It carries a bit of sentiment from the pop balladry of the late 50's and early 60's but tunefully updates its spirit to accommodate Pet Sound's lush, baroque sensibilities. The attitudes expressed in "Here Today" further accentuate reflections of an innocent, wide-eyed Beach Boys style from the past converging with a wiser, more pensive creative outlook for the band. Pet Sound's final trio alternate between reflective pieces and the psychedelic, sonic identity of the record. "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" explores one's place in society amidst anxiety-riddled theremin that colors the piece. "Pet Sounds" is a sonic, exotica-laced trip supported by four different kinds of saxophones and Coca-Cola cans. Finally, "Caroline, No" ends the record on a downtrodden note, reflecting on a former flame that can't be recognized anymore from his own vantage point as the ambience of barks and a chugging train ends the LP as you're transported to a nostalgic place and an innocent time you recall with precise vividity.
Pet Sounds leaves an impression in the musical terrain like an asteroid scar, forever altering its climate and shaping its future. As stated earlier, this has been well-documented and discussed ad nauseam. Inversely, listeners should see the album as a catalyst and less of an artifact, effortlessly as relevant today as it was then. It's the musical representation of the faith bestowed in others by trusted friends. It's a warm, inviting embrace awash in human imperfection and the subsequent understanding that should come with it. Brian Wilson would personally struggle soon after and his fellow Beach Boys would progressively diminish along with the fruits of their labor (despite a handful of gems). The cruelty of time would shroud their innovative accomplishments with only the gimmick that pigeon-holed them remaining. However, for one shining moment, five timid young men were at the forefront of musical expression and progression in an era where the album as an artistic construct had not yet been fully realized. From "Little Deuce Coupe" to "God Only Knows", the Beach Boys had reached Nirvana and Pet Sounds served as their guiding light.
"God only knows what I'd be without you."
- God Only Knows
1. Wouldn't It Be Nice
2. Sloop John B
3. You Still Believe in Me
Put me in the overrated category. Pristine production. Couple of great songs. But overall it sounds forced. Very much like Brian Wilson was indeed trying to outdo The Beatles but actually doesn't accomplish his goal. Good try though. God Only Knows is a perfect example, the lyrical trope "god only knows.." if god only knows then no one really knows including the singer! Then there's the instrumental break at about 1min in. It disrupts the flow of the song and seems arbitrary rather than organic. If Wilson/Asher were such a great songwriting team why did they never work together again?
Classic! Beautiful! If there is one part of modern popular music that really gets to me is harmonies. Pet Sounds influenced so many of the artists that I love, and it still sounds good so many years later.
Ah, Pet Sounds. Widely touted by all the "Best Albums" polls as one of the best - usually up in the top 5 of these polls.
Is it? Really?
One of the things I always wonder about these best album polls and reports is whether the history of an album gets in the way of a real critical appraisal of the album's worth. So, with Pet Sounds, there's no doubt that for its time (1966) it was ground-breaking, especially in its use of studio techniques. And of course, the Beatles loved it - and used may of the same "recording studio as an instrument" techniques for their later albums.
But if you listen to it today, for the first time, not knowing the history, what would your view be? Is it one of the great albums?
Me, I'm not so sure. There isn't a single track on this album that makes me go ""Wow!" - and an album generally needs at least one of those for me to really rate it. The song subjects are pretty standard, and even the production is a bit average to me.
So, not a great in my books. Sorry.
Hmmm. I'm not really sure this is all it's cracked up to be.
Absolutely breathtaking. Fantastic all the way through. The harmonies are beautiful
One of the best 5 albums ever made with no doubt. Brian Wilson is an absolute genius, maybe the only one who could stand at the Beatles' level in the '60s; in terms of composition perhaps the highest peak in the history of modern music. Sounds excellent from the first to the last song, even the less known: "You Still Believe In Me" has the appearance of a divine origin symphony, the continuous overlapping of ascending and descending scales in "Here Today" makes it one of the most underrated songs of their entire discography and the psychedelic taste of "Don't Talk..." was very unique for that time. Breathtaking choirs, orchestral arrangements, experimental production, how can anyone who loves music dislike this masterpiece?
Pity that Brian went out of his mind, one of the greatest musical geniuses to ever set foot on this planet.
Wilson's masterpiece, the vocal harmonies are out of this world, the songwriting is great, instrumentals are superb.
top ten best of all-time classic
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