When Brian Wilson wrote Pet Sounds for his band the Beach Boys, he was trying to create a set of songs that fit together as a whole album (inspired by the Beatles’ Revolver). I think he did pretty well; Pet Sounds covers many themes, but underpinning the album is a sense of wistfulness that unites the tracks. Compared to some of the simplistic albums we have listened to on our musical adventure, Wilson shows us a more realistic picture of life and love’s complications. Pet Sounds communicates a longing for something slightly different that is very easy to identify with, and at times the album gives you something to think about (or is that too pretentious?).
The music is good too. On Pet Sounds the vocal harmonies that Beach Boys were known for are mixed with a whole new range of instruments and sound effects to create some really interesting sounds. The instrumental tracks demonstrate this brilliantly, without the distraction of vocals, and they really enhance the album. I think Pet Sounds has a bit of Christmassy feel, which shines the strongest on the lovely God Only Knows (I think it’s all the bells – and because it’s on the Love Actually soundtrack).
Christmassy or not, Pet Sounds has the killer combination of great tunes and thought provoking lyrics. I am not so fond of their reworking of Caribbean folk song Sloop John B, but that may be because my first ever introduction to Sloop John B was hearing it repeatedly belted out by drunken students throughout university; they just never got the harmonies right!
This is an album I would, and do, chose to listen to regularly, and discovering gems like this is a brilliant part of our musical adventure.