Take a step back and place yourself in 1965, California.
Its 1965, popular culture is being turned on its head, and the zeitgeist is more spaceward than ever before. The Beach Boys are a seemingly “safe/normal” pop group, who are on top of the world.
With a string of chart-topping hits and and world renowned accolade, something has to go wrong, right? Que Brian Wilson’s breakdown, right around this time (juggling a world tour, a Christmas album, the pressure to stay prolific and creative at the same time, etc.) He stepped down from performing live to focus on the bands writing and production, around the same time The Beach Boys start experimenting with mind-altering psychedelics.
All of a sudden the stiff upper lip of the status quo is shattered, or at least starting to, contributing to the “fuck it” moment for Brian Wilson. With the mass of pressures to perform, make hit records, all at the whim of a record label, he hits his risky business moment and says fuck it, I’m doing my thing, I need to be happy.
You can start hearing this on ‘Summer Days’, introducing some nontraditional approaches to surf rock (which at this point he ardently wanted to move away from), mixing in R&B as well as a wider array of instruments, and then full fledged head tripped in ‘Pet Sounds’, almost entirely written and produced by Wilson himself- a poignantly personal journey through love, anxiety and the coming of age that he was experiencing.
While commercially the records’ performance was mediocre at best, it has become one of the most iconic rock records of that period, and more importantly a Rosetta stone to the remainder of their commercially unsuccessful, but artistically brilliant legacy.
We included the ironically titled “Surf’s Up” and “Friends,” true psych-rock driven records, but the twist is, whilst psych bands of the era were reflecting the changing world around them, Brian Wilson took this opportunity to explore the uncharted waters of personal growth- a truly unique concept for the era.
These are bizarre but beautiful records that serve as an introspective journey of Brian Wilson, a true genius.