The Beach Boys
Friends


3.5
great

Review

by neurotic4lyfe USER (2 Reviews)
September 18th, 2013 | 34 replies


Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A sweet album, focusing more on blissful relaxation than the excited melodrama of the past

If an album cover has ever perfectly represented the music it held inside, it is the cover for 'Friends' by the Beach Boys. The cloudy, sparse background and the brightly coloured palette reflects the album's work well. Of course by 1968, the Beach Boys main creative force Brian Wilson was anything but tranquil, but the band soldiered on, working more as a group to write their material.

Many of the songs here use stark minimalist production, this is most notable on the opener 'Meant For You' and Dennis Wilson's 'Be Still'. Although the latter is too undeveloped, sounding more like a meditation chant than a written piece of music. Indeed, a few songs here sound unfinished, most unfortunately the lovely 'Wake The World', which cries out for embellishment but clocks in at only 1.28. Brian's instrumental 'Passing By' could arguably use some lyrics to flesh out the lovely melody, but the relaxed ahh's add to its ethereal quality. However it is worth noting the harmonies don't feel as tightly practiced as in earlier Beach Boys work. It is fairly common to hear them being sung slightly out of time, and they don't sound quite as angelic as when Brian lead the band. However, if anything this only helps to emphasize the carefree sound the band were clearly going for.

Whilst the album may be intentionally subdued, there are interesting uses of instruments throughout. Both 'Wake The World' and the highlight 'Little Bird' make deceivingly clever and pleasant usage of strings that help emphasize the fragile tone of the album. Mike Love's horn section lead 'Transcendental Meditation' (a track despised by a good percentage of Beach Boys fans) has an interesting drone quality, though it at first sounds out of place and ugly. And the penultimate track 'Diamond Head' is a sweet divergence into Hawaiian tinged psychedelia, reminding you of the era the album came from.

Some of the cheesier lyrics can show their age at times, especially in songs like the title track and the uncomfortably cutesy 'When a Man Needs a Woman' ('And someday I'll put my son on my knee/And his little eyes will be looking at me'). Its often easy to see why many people regard the Beach Boys as 'un-hip'. Despite this, a few of the song's have a spiritual quality thanks to Mike Love's appreciation for transcendental meditation, and the album generally does a good job of matching the music's laid back tone well, for instance 'Little Bird' ('Little bird up in a tree/Looked down a sang a song to me').

'Friends' is a further sonic distancing from lushly orchestrated Beach Boy classics of the past (do I really need to say which album I'm referencing here?). Its minimalist but pleasant atmosphere contains no crashing dynamics or heartbreak-inspired melodrama, but instead focuses on pursuing a sonic sate of pure bliss and relaxation. Its an easy album to listen to and is a pleasant, if not stellar, entry in the Beach Boys back catalogue.


user ratings (190)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
sunflower2020 (4)
Beach Boys in 1968. Then, summer was there and the time was right for fighting in the street. What c...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Chrisjon89
September 18th 2013


3833 Comments


gotta check this at some point along with 20/20 and Wild Honey. good review.

osmark86
February 27th 2014


10759 Comments


do it chris, this album is pretty damn chill. personally I love the opener and wish it was longer.

StrizzMatik
September 9th 2015


4023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The full version of Meant For You on the Made In California set is breathtakingly great and there's no goddamn reason it should've been cut for the record. Mike Love's finest songwriting moment in a long line of shit and fuckery

ArsMoriendi
December 6th 2015


34723 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

:/

Digging: Linda Perhacs - Parallelograms

Friday13th
March 28th 2016


7398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

jamming again and THAT BASS IS SO GOOD

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2016


19428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

TRAAAANS CEEEN DEEEENTAL MEDI TAAAATION CAAAAAAAN

EMANCIPAAAATE THE MAAAAAAAN AND GET YOU FEEELIN' GRAAAAAAAND

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2016


19428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

these guys could do no wrong from '64-'74 so unbelievable

wtferrothorn
April 2nd 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is SO much better than Wild Honey. Just screams "summer".

Friday13th
April 3rd 2016


7398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed, it's all good stuff though. It's sad people don't appreciate the real classic era of the Beach Boys like they should.

theNateman
April 3rd 2016


3809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Basically all you need from the early era of the beach boys is "endless summer, and every album from pet sounds to surf's up

Friday13th
April 3rd 2016


7398 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ haha yes! All you need is eight albums! I like your line of thinking XD

It's false though, you also need Today, Summer Days and the Smile Sessions.

LotusFlower
April 3rd 2016


12000 Comments


and yet ferro still wont listen to Surf's Up

wtferrothorn
April 3rd 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's on my "to do" list man! Just gotta hit Sunflower, then Surf's Up.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2016


19428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love You and Adult/Child aren't essential but definitely show Brian trying his best to regain his creative power within the band, but they definitely are flawed. 15 Big Ones has some nice songs, but is a very, very flawed album.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2016


19428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

however, Sunflower and Surf's Up are top tier BB albums

theNateman
April 3rd 2016


3809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ferro, hit the two at the same time. It makes for an interesting unintended double album



Love you and adult/child are interesting snapshots of where Brian was, but they're really just meh albums. Even Brian's solo stuff beats those two.

wtferrothorn
April 3rd 2016


5849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Which two, Sunflower and Surf's Up? If so, duly noted.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2016


19428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah man those two



yeah, Love You and A/C aren't astonishing but they beat anything they did afterwards. There's some glimpses of Brian's greatness, but it's recommended only just in the context they were made, as well as 15 Big Ones. I haven't heard any of Brian's solo stuff but Dennis' Pacific Ocean Blue is a magnificent album.

theNateman
April 3rd 2016


3809 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ferro, yea dude those two.



Dennis' POB was amazing. far better than any other solo beach boy save for Brian's BWPS

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2016


19428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the dark horse of the beach boys discog

album is way too chill not to like



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