Everything I’ve ever done was because of Pet Sounds. It’s an album that has given life and new meaning to me, no matter what mood I may be in. Pet Sounds is an album where it fills you with depression only to lighten you up with uplifting sounds. From the morally depressing “God Only Knows,” to the uplifting curiosity of “I Know There’s An Answer,” Pet Sounds does more for music then just flexing The Beach Boys’ (but arguably and truly Brian Wilson’s) genius.
Wilson tried different compositions, but also completely looked for different tonal compositions as well. Though nothing could top the highly experimental title track “Pet Sounds,” a smooth surf piano jazz tune using coke cans for percussion. It’s very James Bond in its approach and it doesn’t disappoint.
There is also “Caroline, No,” which has a smooth island sound to it and ends on a locomotive running as dogs bark. In a way this song defies most standard conceptual tracks, as this one truly contains an ending. The song details a story about losing the girl’s trust and at ends with the locomotive indicating the notion of loss.
In a way this album was one of the first albums to prove that a pop album could be orchestrated to be as amazing as rock albums of that time. But it also ended up being one of the first concept albums of the genre. It opens to a beautifully orchestrated tune that begins our story of love and maturity for two lovers. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” opens the story with the man serenading a song about growing up quicker to escape the hardships surrounding their being together. But as the album progresses, the story begins to crumble and lighten as it points to different aspects of such, like “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder),” a sweet love song about the power of nonverbal communication.
Pet Sounds is full of creative lyrics to tell the beauty in love and life. It doesn’t support, but adds upon the greatness of the instrumentals created by Brian Wilson, Tony Asher and others. On “Don’t Talk,” Wilson sings “There are words we both could say / But don’t talk, put you head on my shoulder / Come close, close your eyes and be still / Don’t talk, take my hand and let me hear your heart beat,” which creates an intimate tone full of sensitivity.
This album also showcases band members Mike Love and Carl Wilson, who both sing lead on essential tracks. On the track “That’s Not Me,” Mike Love gave one of the best performances on the album, along with Carl Wilson on “God Only Knows.” Both of which demonstrate the best of the best in psychedelic rock. “That’s Not Me,” is probably my favorite song from the album, as it perfectly describes my journey as a critic and writer in this off-kilter reality I’m living. Not only is Mike Love the uncle of a fantastic basketball player Kevin, he also speaks to me through the song. And “God Only Knows,” is the most cry worthy love song to date.
“I Know There’s An Answer,” is the most interesting track because of the drastic change it went through. Initially a track titled “Hang On To Your Ego,” the original composition was railing on the use of LSD. The chemical based drug is effective on mood, as well as making the user dig into their brain and think about life; so as Brian Wilson would sing “They isolate their heads and stay in their safety zone,” it reflects that idea. The chorus also goes “Hang on to your ego / Hang on, but I know that you’re gonna lose the fight,” so there’s that too. The harmonies also change in the chorus because of the syllabic change and quite frankly “I Know There’s An Answer,” has the better sound, but one can only imagine how the reaction would have been if it never changed.
I sometimes I question why I could love this album over everything, considering the love I have for hip-hop. But I always find the right answer, before “I Know There’s An Answer.” It’s because each individual track tells it’s own story outside of the main concept. No matter what mood you are in, there is a song on there that will make you feel like someone knows your pain, happiness, or even if you are “discovering yourself,” it’s right there. It’s an album that is eclectic and holds no barriers to what it wants to sound like.
So what does Pet Sounds mean to me? It means endless possibilities as a human being, not just what I excel in. It’s been that way since I was a child.