Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

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Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

Album Released: 1966

Pet Sounds ::: Artwork

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1.Wouldn't It Be Nice2:22
2.You Still Believe In Me2:33
3.That's Not Me2:27
4.Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)2:52
5.I'm Waiting For The Day3:01
6.Let's Go Away For A While2:18
7.Sloop John B2:57
8.God Only Knows2:46
9.I Know There's An Answer3:10
10.Here Today2:38
11.I Just Wasn't Made For These Times3:21
12.Pet Sounds2:20
13.Caroline, No2:16

Reviews

Of all the music recorded in the 20th century, there's just one album that I'd unreservedly award 7 stars (by site criteria, equating to 'Superb, flawless music', meaning cannot be improved upon in any way whatsoever). And it ain't Pet Sounds.

In every sense, Pet Sounds is America's equivalent to The Beatles' Sgt Pepper (another vastly over-rated album in my view). It's an album that routinely appears highly placed on those 'Top 100 Greatest Albums Ever' lists published by music magazines whenever they need to stimulate sales.

Sure, the album is indisputably significant in a historical sense, but primarily from a technical perspective. To modern ears it isn't especially notable in strictly musical terms - it's just high-grade ear-candy, and there's PLENTY more of that around, so there's no reason to single this out as being somehow exceptional in that respect.

Pet Sounds certainly isn't making any great artistic statement either - and by that I mean 'Art' as a cultural activity imbued with the power to say something worthwhile about - well, anything really - Life, the state-of-the-world perhaps, some incisive philosophical observations maybe.

Instead we had to wait a decade, until punk / New Wave came along, before post-war music started addressing something a bit more substantial than these clean-cut adolescent Mills & Boon-styled fantasies about life.

That's the main problem I have with this album - the plaudits heaped upon it are out of all proportion to its place in the wider scheme of things. Because it never aspired to be, and therefore fails, as genuinely Great Art, the album certainly isn't worthy of all the esteem still piled upon it by the music media, like it's the musical equivalent of the Holy Grail or something. To me, that's just esteem as in 'hype'.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon


One problem with albums (or films, etc) that are aclaimed by many as 'great', is that when a newcomer comes to experience them, there's a good chance they will be initially disappointed, and such a reaction could be likely with Pet Sounds, especially if listeners expect a fun / rollicking Surfin’ USA experience.

By this stage in the band's career, Brian Wilson was in full creative flow, and when he heard The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, he was inspired, took up the challenge, and created what is now regarded as not only the greatest Beach Boys record of all, but one of the greatest pop/rock albums of all time, even though it’s hard to put it in any clear 'pop' or 'rock' category.

Such songs as “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “Sloop John B.” and the incredibly beautiful “You Still Believe In Me” leap out instantly, but others don’t. It’s a record that has to be listened to again and again. The extraordinaryly wide variety of instruments, the incredibly rich, deft textures ... there is always something new to be found here, lovely pleasures to experience.

The ultimate accolade that could be given to Pet Sounds is from Beatles manager, George Martin, and Paul McCartney himself, who said that without it, there would have been no Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor


Everybody and their dogs like to shout out to the moon that Pet Sounds is a timeless masterpiece, and nothing else like it has ever been made.

It would be fun to disagree with this consensus, but I actually agree with it wholeheartedly. Maybe I'd even go a step further and hope that my shout to the moon is louder than everybody else's. This is an Enormous Masterpiece. This is not just a critical darling, but an album that I enjoy hearing immensely.

Pet Sounds is usually considered a Brian Wilson solo album with somewhat limited help from other band members ... well, on the conceiving and composing of it at any rate. Wilson set out to create a truly fantastic, perfect, and timeless album. And simply put, he achieved this. That's exactly what so many critics say about this achievement, and I agree. It's like Ponce De Leon finding the fountain of youth. Quite rare, this album is.

The instrumental arrangements are what it is most famous for. Every track sounds unique in almost unsettling ways. Unsettling in the sense that I can't tell how Wilson ever put this thing together. Usually, I'm able to easily pick out sounds and instruments (whether or not I'm able to correctly name them). Here, it's really difficult trying to dissect it ... even if I were to slow everything down. In fact, it's quite impossible. Listening to the stereo portions of this CD helps a little bit, but that's not even enough. There are too many elements and sounds layered upon each track ... and the songs all seem to take unpredictable and gorgeous turns. Everything is developed enormously well. It was considered crazy at the time - maybe even futile - but it's all gorgeous and absolutely nothing is out-of-place.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)


What can I say that hasn't been said before? Pet Sounds is Paul McCartney's favorite album, and the direct inspiration for Sgt. Pepper. It's also the subject of a Doonesbury cartoon in which a dying AIDS patients hears it on CD and mutters as his last words 'Brian Wilson is God'.

Does it or does it not live up to its reputation? No, of course not - no album can survive the 'greatest of all time' tag, and if you go into it with that expectation, you're bound to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are the type who believes that The Beach Boys are nothing but surfin' fools who aren't worth your time, this album will demolish all your objections and make you an awestruck fanatic. I have personally witnessed this happen to several nay-sayers upon exposure to the rare beauty of Brian Wilson's unique corner of the audioverse.

A sustained suite of songs that document the pre-breakdown heartache of Brian's soul, more than any other 60's album Pet Sounds broke new ground in defining just what heights pop music could reach in terms of complexity and innovation - and the heights stretch as high as Brian Wilson's talent, which is to say the level of genius.

"Wouldn't It Be Nice" opens the album with an uplifting note that won't be repeated on this predominately melancholy set of songs. Though it's on the surface optimistic, the oft-quoted line in the kind of world where we belong hints at an unreachable longing for escape from the very painful real world. After watching Michael Moore's Roger and Me I can't help but think of that poor laid-off automobile worker who pulls over to the road crying when he hears it on the radio.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)


This is a record that embraces adult themes of love and spirit. It embraces the listener too - inviting you into its world of love, beating hearts, lost relationships, and resting a head upon the shoulder of a loved one.

Pet Sounds is also an album with impeccably state-of-the-art production (well, by 21st century standards the production is no longer state-of-the-art, but given the studios in which Brian, Mike, Al, Carl, Bruce and Dennis worked with - this is unsurpassed even today).

Brian didn’t use studio trickery in so much as he simply knew how to use the studio. He knew where to place a microphone and which microphone to use. Well, all good record engineers know such things of course - Brian wasn’t unusual in that respect. What was unusual is how all of his choices were just ‘right’. And bear in mind, Brian wasn’t really a producer or an engineer. He’d not taken any college courses in sound reproduction or record production. Everything was learnt cutting those simple early Beach Boys records, watching trusted lieutenant Chuck Britz in the control room, and beating off the overbearing advances and domineering of his father.

The impact of Pet Sounds deserves some discussion. Upon release, people within the music industry - musicians, producers etc, recognized Brian had put his heart and soul into Pet Sounds and that it was indeed something special. They fell in love with the record, and people such as Glen Campbell, producer Terry Melcher, even John Cale of The Velvet Underground are responsible partly for Pet Sounds never being forgotten - the fans of Pet Sounds spread the word, spread the message.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)


The merits of this album have at times been obscured by the hype that surrounds it. I’m referring to the bloviation about innovation, about it being an unprecedented use of the recording studio, about whether or not it counts as a 'concept' album. You’re likely to hear phrases like 'teenage symphony to God'. You may even be informed that Pet Sounds is the album that inspired Sgt. Pepper.

But Pet Sounds is basically just a collection of pop songs. The only thing that truly distinguishes it from any other such collection is that the pop songs on this album are better than the pop songs on those other albums. But the album is not perfect - it is in fact less consistent than Today!, as it becomes slightly mired down somewhere in the middle of Side One, although that brief flirtation with the merely good is soon corrected.

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” and “God Only Knows” are the universally acknowledged classics here, along with - to a lesser extent - the band’s cover of “Sloop John B”. The latter was not intended to be part of Pet Sounds, but as record company policy was to cram every hit onto an album, the song doesn’t really fit thematically.

Those three singles alone could trump just about any pop album you care to name, but the album tracks are just as good, if not better. “I’m Waiting for the Day” is the closest any track comes to actual rock. And how about the unforgivably good “You Still Believe in Me”? I love that solitary bicycle horn honking during the climax of the song, which has the kind of symphonic dynamics that no pop producer had ever attempted before.

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by Reviewer: S M Hellebore


Pet Sounds is the gorgeous pinnacle of an artistic arc that began the first time Brian Wilson put pen to paper to write "Surfin'". The album's something more than simply rock 'n' roll - it's pop music taken to a compositional extreme that few have attempted, and no one has succeeded in recreating since.

The album squeezes every last bit of potential out of a recording studio packed with session musicians, with Wilson taking what his rivals and friends had pioneered, then jacking it up half-a-dozen notches. It's the product of a boy grown into a man, sincerely concerned about what was happening in the world around him (including his often-troubled marriage), and the confusing changes happening within himself.

But Pet Sounds is also draggy and slow - the product of toil and perfectionism over spontaneity and enthusiasm, that seems to insinuate more than it actually says. So - me being the mental midget I am - my favorite song by far is "Sloop John B" ... I respect the album more than I love or even like it, and you can talk until you turn blue and pass out, I'm not going to be convinced the album was as influential as everyone says it is.

I'm not any more convinced by the melodies here than I am the ones on the second side of Today!. And for those who trundle out the argument of how complicated the chord structures are on this album - well, Jazz guys play this kind of shit all the time, especially the bebop kind, and pop songwriters like Burt Bacharach had been making strikingly similar music for decades before Pet Sounds came along.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])