No Pier Pressure
Since the “Brian is back” super session band-assisted Beach Boys tribute tours and album retraces of the early/mid-00s the forever out-to-lunch Mr. Wilson has released Christmas and covers albums, a bit of Disney here, some Gershwin there, it all sounds the same, fermented jellybeans and too many lithium-laced sea breezes.
None of it needed to happen.
And I say this as someone who saw the SMiLE tour – and (of course) loved it. That should have been the end.
There are one or two moments on this new album, the first of original material in over a half-dozen years, a late stab at trying to rekindle if not the Beach Boys magic then to retrace whatever worked on that rather wonderful self-titled album.
The best things here are of course the attempts to get back to the sound so stubbornly stuck in his head. A pair of songs with former Beach Boy buddies Al Jardine and David Marks (What Ever Happened and The Right Time) are almost lovely. Though The Right Time lapses over into parody-land with its arrangement bordering on the satirical.
We don’t need most of the collaborative efforts (She & Him, yuck; Kacey Musgraves, Nate Ruess) but Sail Away is another almost-highlight. And that’s only because it features more Beach Boys – Jardine again and Blondie Chaplin, an ex touring/recording member of the Beach Boys, more recently trotted out on tour with The Rolling Stones.
But Sail Away is both standout and stand-up embarrassment. It’s proof that Brian’s self-plagiarism runs strong. And though he’s often at his best doing what he used to do so well it just sounds desperate, silly and so hopelessly out of touch. Dated beyond belief.
Like Phil Collins covering Motown, yet another live album from the Stones or Paul McCartney, or Eric Clapton releasing anything you just don’t need to ever hear this to know you don’t need it.
I took this one for the team. I got yer back.
With love – and mercy – I hope this is Brian’s last album. There are hints it will indeed be. But the movie will help this sell, more worryingly that fact might push him back out on his stool for a bit longer, staring out from behind his keyboard-prop as if a mildly angry Neil Young and a dispassionate sun bear with immaculately combed hair suddenly morphed into one and was caught wondering if possibly the iron was still on, even after using it to make the cream-cheese and shoe-string salad before locking the car-keys up safe and sound in the butter conditioner again.