When I first listened to this new CD, I thought "how sad." Wincing through "My Waltz" and a few of the other tracks, I imagined Wilson recorded this while someone held a gun to his head or sitting on the toilet. However, on listening a second, third and fourth time, some of these songs sink in and become highly pleasureable over time.
Sure, it's standard old-guy rock (plodding tempos, embarrassing guest stars, etc.) but I'm an old guy too. The harmonies are fine, maybe not as excellent as prime Beach Boys; so are the melodies. And with all the touring he's done lately, Brian Wilson seems to be in better voice. My buddy and I were lucky enough to meet him and get our CDs signed in Sherman Oaks in June, and Brian still seems very shy.
Bottom line: songs like "How Can We Keep On Dancin'" and the Pet Sounds-flavored title tune are highlights. Best song on the album is "Soul Searchin'" a duet with Brian's late brother Carl, it does bring back the old shiver you get when you hear a great Beach Boys tune. I also like the sheer goofiness of songs like "Desert Drive" (kind of reminiscent of "409") and "Saturday Morning in the City (reminds me of "Busy Doin' Nothin')."
So what if most of the lyrics are silly and banal; I like to think they're "childlike." Nonetheless, Paul McCartney's guest shot on "A Friend Like You," while charming, is a waste.
But it's summer -- kick off your shoes and turn it up. Enjoy the season, and this moment of Brian Wilson's new music. The weather will change, soon enough.