Before the release of “Pet Sounds,” The Beach Boys had been extremely successful commercially, but the critics still saw them as a surf rock band, that was not capable of making any music of lasting quality. However, the critics’ opinions changed after the release of “Pet Sounds.”
After hearing The Beatles newest album, “Rubber Soul,” Brian Wilson was determined to better that album, and as a result he put his heart and soul into the making of the album, and ended up topping “Rubber Soul.”
At its time of release, “Pet Sounds” did not fulfill commercial expectations, “only” reaching the top ten, and failing to receive gold status in the U.S. However, musicians in the U.K. started taking notice of the album’s brilliance, as well as critics, and as a result, the album has come to be one of the most acclaimed albums of all time.
As for the production, Brian Wilson certainly wanted an album full of different sounds that had not been heard in pop music yet, as well as different instruments. In fact, the backing tracks to these songs seem much more classically-influenced than rock-influenced, unlike their earlier albums. Brian Wilson certainly achieved the sound he wanted, as the production still seems amazing forty-five years later.
As for the album itself, it is so perfect that it is impossible to believe. Every song is a masterpiece within itself, and yet the album as a whole still exceeds the sum of its parts! Although all the songs are great, there are seven songs that particularly stand out: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “You Still Believe in Me,” “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder),” “Sloop John B,” “God Only Knows,” “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” and “Caroline, No.”
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” the album opener, is the second best song on the album, and is the perfect way to open the album. The song is most notable for being the only truly upbeat song on the whole album, as is also notable for its optimistic lyrics and the signature Beach Boys harmonies.
“You Still Believe in Me” is also notable for its beautiful melody and harmonies, and for its excellent lyrics.
“Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)” is extremely similar to “You Still Believe in Me” in that it also has an excellent melody, and features an excellent falsetto from Brian Wilson.
“Sloop John B” doesn’t quite fit in all that well with the rest of the album, but it’s still an excellent song, and it provides great comic relief from the rest of the album, and it’s an extremely catchy and fun song.
The next song, “God Only Knows” takes the cake for being the best song, and altogether one of the best songs of all time. Dennis Wilson gets his only lead vocal here, and he sings it perfectly. The song has an absolutely beautiful melody, and is notable for its lovely harmonies towards the end.
“I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” is also notable for being the most confessional song on the whole album, and it basically sums up the album’s lyrics.
The album ends with “Caroline, No”, which is notable for its beautiful melody and its clever lyrics, as well as being released as a Brian Wilson solo song.
As for the rest of the songs, they aren’t quite as good as the ones I mentioned before, but they’re still great. In fact, the only song that could be dubbed “not great” is the instrumental title track; that’s how brilliant this album. I won’t get into much detail about the rest of the songs, but “Let’s Go Away for Awhile” is an extremely complex instrumental, and “I’m Waiting for the Day” and “I Know There’s an Answer” are extremely melodic and catchy songs.
All in all, there are not many faults to this album, and there is nothing to really complain about, which helps make this one of the greatest achievements in all of popular music.