Review Summary: Written and performed in the peak of their popularity, first sings of boredom with fun in the sun style.
Summer of 1965... Bob Dylan and The Beatles aside, no one in this world could compare with artistic growth of The Beach Boys. They were delivering hits as well, music was becoming more and more complex. But Brian Wilson needed more time to explore and shape these ideas. There was not too much time and heads in Capitol did not understand it.
The Beach Boys' first album in 1965, "Today!" was released in March. It entered TOP 10 in USA and UK and was praised as their best LP so far. Of course it spawned a couple TOP 10 singles as well, so what's the problem" This album was released in June. And what is even bigger problem" This is not their last LP in 1965. In October they would release "Party!", the world's maybe first "unplugged" album, a collection of covers. Today it is impossible to imagine production rate like this (John Frusciante doesn't count). And, to finish the story about the facts, "Summer Days" just missed number 1 of the charts in USA and UK. If you look at the cover (I tried to upload it but it didn't work out for some reason), Al Jardine is missing, because he had a flu the day the picture was taken. And judging by the cover, they didn't give Brian time to even change the clothes and dress something more appropriate for the beach.
"Summer Days" is clearly unfinished record. There is nothing wrong with great singles such as "California Girls", "Help Me Rhonda", "Then I Kissed Her" and album tracks "The Girl From New York City", "Girl Don't Tell Me", "Let Him Run Wild" and a capella chant "And Your Dreams Come True", the problem is that the rest of the album is two steps beyond. It is difficult to hear, for example, "Let Him Run Wild" and after that something like second rate demo. But those great songs are probably among the best BB performances ever. The only exception is "Girl Don't Tell Me", although it features good singing, it is obviously underproduced track.
Although it doesn't contain nothing open and heartfelt like "Please Let Me Wonder" or "She Knows Me Too Well", "Summer Days" is good listen because we can hear Brian Wilson's improvement in production and songwriting. "The Girl From New York City" may be his the most energetic song, and "California Girls" his greatest work before "Pet Sounds". And if you really want to, listen to "I'm Bugged At My Old Man" and "Summer Means New Love" instrumental. "I'm Bugged At My Old Man" is practically demo, but interesting because of lyrics about their psycho father and because of the riff, it is not unlike "Sail On Sailor", his song on 1973 album "Holland". "Summer Means New Love" is half cooked, but might be very distant cousin of "Pet Sounds" instrumental tracks.
As an album "Summer Days" hasn't aged well, its flaws are more and more irritant (especially lead vocals on "You're So Good To Me"), but on CD it is packed with "Today!", these two albums together fit perfectly, and along with couple of the earlier singles, this is the best of The Beach Boys' "surf and car" phase.