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Aural Pleasure Review

The Beach Boys: 'That's Why God Made the Radio'

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There's two ways you can look at the Brian Wilson-produced Beach Boys' 50th anniversary reunion, the first in 16 years that finds Wilson joining original surviving members Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston, and the first that features guitarist/vocalist David Marks since 1963's Little Deuce Coup. On the one hand, it's as if time hasn't passed at all: the perfect harmonies are there, voices intact. On the other hand, the album is a mix of terrific tracks and not-so-great ones, one of the reasons the band was always a step or two behind the Beatles and the Stones. And no matter how hard a fan like yours truly tries, it's hard to digest grandpas talking about, basically, the same good vibrations they were talking in the '60s. In spite of isolated touches of humor ("We're back together/ Easy money/ Ain't life funny") and a darker second half that doesn't quite take off, the album suffers from the usual Beach Boy syrup. Yet, they're so good at it I kept returning to hear those voices in amazement. Wilson knows how to open and close an album— he starts with a solemn, harmony-layered hymn and closes with an epic three-song suite. Not Pet Sounds, but you won't find anyone who can sing (and produce) better than these guys.

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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