The ’60s, California, sunshine and feel-good tunes ... It’s easy to see how The Beach Boys fit right into this mix but interesting to see how they fit into other mixes.
“Surfin’ U.S.A.” understandably doesn’t do it for me these days as the temperature drops and midterms are in full swing. In reality, many of The Beach Boys’ chart toppers (“Kokomo,” “Good Vibrations,” “I Get Around”) although great, are unable to give me that “stare at the ceiling” kind of feeling that I’m looking for right about now. All of this considered, and as a matter of fact, it usually isn’t my first instinct to crank out a Beach Boys tune in the middle of October. However, if I take my pick from 1966’s Pet Sounds, I’m able to match the mood perfectly.
The Beach Boys’ ability to mix these elements and, almost more importantly, it working, makes it extraordinary. It provides surf rock gems along with an album like Pet Sounds that digs into psychedelic pop and art rock. In terms of the range of discography, it’s quite incredible.
There are few things that say “ceiling stare” quite like “God Only Knows.” It is painful, but at the same time, it’s stunning and intimate. The lyrics are raw: “I may not always love you / But long as there are stars above you / You never need to doubt it / I’ll make you so sure about it.” The lyrics combined with the instruments chosen give me exactly what I’m looking for. The track places you right into that vulnerable yet beautiful state, allowing staring off and contemplating to come easy.
“Sloop John B” showcases the experimentation used on this album. It’s a great example of the use of glockenspiel found on Pet Sounds, making the rock and psychedelic genre elements that much more significant. “Sloop John B” incorporates personal investigation hints, making it an intriguing listen: “Let me go home / Why don’t they let me go home? / This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.”
Pet Sounds demonstrates the ability to associate The Beach Boys with a less summer-y or sandy atmosphere. The album is able to be played out in October without feeling weird about longing to take up surfing, heightening the complexity of The Beach Boys. Pet Sounds can be listened to and analyzed both in instrumentals and lyrics, making it perfect for contemplation and mood-matching for the times when summer feels far away.
Lauren Patterson is a sophomore studying journalism. Please note that the views and ideas of columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Lauren? Tweet her @lpaatt.