It’s nearly impossible to describe “it.” But there isn’t one song on ‘Pet Sounds’ that doesn’t have ‘it.’ I defy you to listen and not fall in love as every song comes on with a sound that is bigger than most artists ever attempt.
Take the beautiful opening of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” with its tinkling majesty and then the harmonies kick in. This song is only 2:25 minutes and yet packs the punch of an epic.
This continues over and over throughout the entirety of the album. ‘Pet Sounds’ is a lesson for any artist who wants to make an album from beginning to end. The thing is if you were an artist who listened and wanted to replicate there is nothing easy about this. Four guys with standard instruments could never replicate the awesomeness of what is one, if not the, greatest modern albums of all time.
And then there is dissonance in “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)” that is rare for this album but it is a good change in mood. Again, the challenge is for you to listen and not fall in love with the despair filled with vocals that make you close your eyes and get lost.
And Brian Wilson tells you that the moment of despair is all but gone once he launches into “I’m Waiting For The Day.” Remember when you fell in love and they were in love with someone else? Brian Wilson comes in and sells it soft but then hard charges into the convincer and it’s full of nothing but glory. It sends shivers and produces goosebumps. It seems impossible that Wilson gets a song this big, with so many parts into three minutes. It makes no sense and yet is as close to perfect as music gets.
If you want to know what is perfect, absolutely unquestionable perfect is “God Only Knows.” I won’t even try to describe what is indescribable. Just close your eyes and listen. Brian Wilson is one of America’s greatest artist ever.
By the way, if you don’t trust my word trust Paul McCartney once called “God Only Knows” “The greatest song ever written.” And called it his favorite song of all time: “I was asked recently to give my top 10 favorite songs for a Japanese radio station … I didn’t think long and hard on it but I popped that [God Only Knows] on the top of my list. It’s very deep. Very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one.”
Don’t dismiss “Sloop John B” as filler. This would be a star on any other album for any other artist. It’s simple and beautiful and is The Beach Boys at their harmonious best. This goes for “I Know There’s An Answer”, “Here Today”, and so on. You could take so many of these songs and call them into a list along with all the greatest songs of all time.
“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” seems to sum up Brian Wilson completely. Perhaps his era would be a better fit with Mozart or other classic musicians. His mind always appear to weave songs that are much more complex than what rock and pop offered him.
And to end an album with “Hang On To Your Ego” just goes to show how deep and brilliant “Pet Sounds” was–among many other words that just get lost as you listen. In modern music, once you get past the four-track you find filler to get the artist to the ten to twelve songs that a record company asked for, but Brian Wilson had so much in him that needed to come out that he starts and ends with genius. This is a hit song that any band would hang their hats on as one of the best songs they wrote and on ‘Pet Sounds’ it is the last song.