Brian Wilson’s first dedicated solo album since 2008 (and possibly his last). No Pier Pressure features a host of collaborators from She & Him to Kacey Musgraves, with original members Al Jardine and David Marks popping in for a helping hand. Anything from Wilson is worth your time. Out on 2xLP vinyl from Virgin EMI.
6/10 Clinton Staff review, 28 May 2015
A question regularly posed by seasoned Beach Boy watchers over recent years concerns how much Brian Wilson is in charge of his current output. He's certainly been by his own standards prolific over the last few years with the highlight the fantastic three songs he managed to cobble together towards the end of the Beach Boys surprisingly ok 'That's Why God Made the Radio' swan song. Any thoughts that he may continue this return to the artistic sweep of 'Pet Sounds' and 'Smile' are pretty much extinguished when you hear the horrid vapid '80's pop of 'Runaway Dancer' which inexplicably is placed second on this album, one for which is pretty much what the CD shuffle and skip buttons were invented. Thing is, between the dross there's a good album trying to get out.
Let's throw the gruesome 'Runaway Dancer', the hideous boy band-isms of 'Our Special Love', the utterly atrocious 'Saturday Night on Hollywood Boulevard' in the bin. Let's replace Kacey Musgrove's out of place country honk on 'Guess You Had to Be There' with Al Jardine's croon, and lets get that twiddly trumpet far away from the moody 'Half Moon Bay' and what is left is actually some of the best and most confident of Wilson's recent work. There's one absolute belter - the sumptuous 'Pet Sounds' sweep of 'Whatever Happened' where between gorgeous chord changes Wilson heartbreakingly asks "what's going to happen to me?". There's an example of Wilson creating absolute beauty out of nothing on the pensioner pop of 'I'm Feeling Sad' which actually contains the line "settle into my easy chair". These two tracks and the soaring 'One Kind of Love' sound like Wilson is in charge. The worst bits of the record have him no-where to be seen.
I don't mind hearing an honest uneven Brian Wilson record, so long as it appears to be him doing it. Too much on 'No Pier Pressure' Wilson sounds like a guest on his own album. More worrying still, is it Wilson making these terrible decisions? Who knows? Most of his interviews are monosyllabic and there's a shroud over what actually takes place on planet Wilson. Strangely all this makes him become more fascinating especially when there's slithers of gold amidst the gunk.
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