Graham Reid | | 1 min read
In what sounds like another step in his on-going recovery programme, this album from the former Beach Boy doesn't much change that well-established formula of layered vocal harmonies, uplifting or reflective melodies, and classy orchestrations.
What makes this of interest though isn't that it is a kind of song-cyle about his beloved California (complete with B-grade post-Beat spoken words bits) but that in the closing songs -- the only bit really worth hearing to be frank -- is it becomes nakedly autobiographical.
Oddly though the lyrics for these "autobiographical" songs -- as with most of the words here -- are by Wilson's longtime band member Scott Bennett who seems to have been given a free pass to speak on Wilson's behalf.
With longtime lyricist/arranger Van Dyke Parks (who worked on Smile) again, this album -- which also refers to Surfer Girl and the whole mood of the early-mid 60s in California which the Beach Boys' music epitomised -- should be of interest to those who tuned in for Pet Sounds/Smile and Wilson's 90s resurrection.
You can't say much about the first two-thirds however where lyrical and musical cliches abound.
And it certainly raises questions about just where Brian Wilson is in all this, given how much assistance he is getting from his musical doppelgangers and off-course substitutes.
The fact it is so grounded in his past means that in most regards Wilson hasn't moved on (whether by his own volition or in the ears of those writing for him).
Do people want him to, though?