REVIEW: Brian Wilson “No Pier Pressure”

2.5 OUT OF 5 NUTS!

brianwilson-nopierpressureCall this one a triumph of diminished expectations. If you’ve seen Brian Wilson perform recently, you probably cringed like I did watching him try to hit the notes and remember the words. To be honest, whenever I see him nowadays I find myself fearing for the dignity of this musical genius and cultural icon.

Well, fear not. Everything’s been nicely cleaned up in the mix on this album. Not only has Brian been obviously auto-tuned, but more than half the tracks feature guest lead singers, making this more of a collection of new Brian Wilson songs than a Brian Wilson album.

Flashes of the Wilson genius shine through on a couple of tracks like the opener “Beautiful Day” and on “One Kind of Love”. But the songwriting has to fight through saccharine and sterile production values that conjure up the 1980s rather than the 1960s.

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The guest vocals add a bit of needed flavor to the overall dullness of sound, with Zoey Deschanel and Kacey Musgraves taking nice little spins on Wilson’s songs. But by far the best results come when Al Jardine takes his turn. Not only does his voice make any backing vocal sound like Beach Boy magic, but his lead singing is still impeccable and pure. He may be the last vocalist from the 1960s who can still hit all the notes.

Overall, this is easy listening with a capital E, but it has just enough fine moments to supply hints of Wilson’s genius. And maybe the best thing I can say is that it could have been a lot worse.

Release Date: April 7, 2015

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