Reviews: The Beach Boys

The beach is a place where a man can feel he's the only soul in the world that's real.

I'm not a guy who plays favourites. There are just too many variables involved in such an assessment for my mind to deliver a be-all, end-all answer to the question "Who is your favourite group/artist?" But I would daresay The Beach Boys are up in the top-tier right there. As much as I love me some Beatles, Floyd, or Who, The Beach Boys sometimes go places and take such staggering creative risks that make those guys seem like they're playing it safe.

The concept shouldn't really work. Here we have five (or six, depending on what era we're talking) guys who be whiter than Wonder Bread. They're dressed in candy-striped shirts and sing gimmicky songs about surfing, sun, and girls (and sometimes the genocide of Native Americans). But that Brian Wilson... he's such a musical genius, he could turn "MacArthur Park" into a master-... well, okay, he's not THAT good (who is?) but you bet your ass nobody can write and produce a classic, unforgettable song with introspective heart and soul like Brian. ...OK, so maybe Carl and Dennis too! If Brian was born a few hundred years before, we would now hold him in equal regard to Beethoven, Bach, and the like as a classical composer. But hey, being the Bach of popular music is none too shabby, neither!

I'll be the first to admit nearly all Beach Boys albums are a bit, erm, "patchy", though, especially compared to those other groups up there. For me, though, The Beach Boys are more apt to hitting the "sweet spot" in that one song better than anyone else whose efforts are spread a little more evenly throughout their product. The Beatles never made anything as creatively ingenious and dynamic as "Heroes and Villains" is my point. But as they are inexorably tied to the whole surfing thing (and hey, I'm not knocking that! It's just not exactly timeless, and hasn't aged well, thematically speaking.) they will forever be deemed "uncool" and "dated" by the very shallow, as compared to the more garden-variety pop of The Who, et al. I'm sorry to say I myself was once of this persuasion, but I overcame and my life has been forever better for it.

For fear of sounding like a Kingdom Hearts character here, little else I've experienced in this world evokes such pure joy and settles my soul like listening to something like The Beach Boys' very best. That's what music's all about, man.