Beach Boys “That’s Why God Made the Radio” (Capitol)
There’s a fine line between re-creating your timeless signature sound and becoming a nostalgia act for your own music. It happens so much these days with older artists and their numerous comebacks, but not the Beach Boys.
The band reunited earlier this year for their 50th anniversary: They’re on a major tour and now they have a new album. “That’s Why God Made the Radio” has a retro sound as if they were following up their seminal 1966 album, “Pet Sounds.” It even ends on a suite of songs like it does.
That baroque-pop classic bore such hits as “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and the haunting “Caroline, No.” And while this new collection of songs may not hold an aesthetic candle to that great record, it does have some real catchy tunes. Tracks like “Shelter,” and “Daybreak Over the Ocean” feel more like newly discovered tracks from a session 40 years ago instead of being recorded last year.
Maybe that’s because Brian Wilson came back to the band after his decades-long absence. Regarded as one of popular music’s true geniuses, his return invigorates the album with the band’s trademark sound. His contributions came in a big way — he produced the album and co-wrote 11 of the album’s 12 tracks.
Wilson was the architect of the band’s California rock sound when mental problems and drug use led him to drop out of the band for some time, and it was never the same again. Now he’s back, and so are his incredible melodies and falsetto delivery. The songs harken back to a simpler time when people wore Huarache sandals, polished their surfboards, and raced their hot rods.
The album marks the band’s 29th studio album, and first since 1992’s “Summer in Paradise.” All the surviving members appear on the album including Wilson, Mike Love (who also writes on the album), and Al Jardine. Early members David Marks and Bruce Johnston, who replaced Wilson when he left the band in 1966, are back for the album and tour.
Check this track out: “From There to Back Again” begins the three-song suite that ends the album and includes some of the best harmonies on the album.