Surf and turf. Though the Beach Boys would continue to mine their twinned subculture for all it was worth, there are only so many ways in which you can celebrate going fast on a curling rush of water or a hot turbocharge of pavement. These albums, respectively the group’s third, from 1963, and their fifth from a year later, show that no matter what the topic, Brian Wilson’s innate musicality was coming to the fore of the Beach Boys sound.
Inspired by the mega-productions of Phil Spector, and Brian’s own musical roots in complex vocal harmonies and chord progressions, as well as the overabundance of talented studio musicians in the L.A. area, this highlights some of the Beach Boys” most favored hit singles and offers intimations of Brian’s sense of romantic yearning for a way of life that he could perhaps only view from the security of his imagination: “In My Room” is a touching evocation of a place to “lock out all my worries and fears.” With Al Jardine drafted back into the band to bolster Brian’s increasing avoidance of touring, the implications of the elder Wilson’s increasing eccentricity were on the horizon.
The jewel of this collection, of course, is “Surfer Girl,” a paean to desire in search of fulfillment that ironically was the first song Brian ever composed, using “When You Wish Upon A Star” as a model. Other signs pointed to Wilson’s growing sophistication as a producer: The strings that embellish “The Surfer Moon,” recall another lush Capitol vocal group of the time, the Lettermen.