The Beach Boys, Endless Summer

Lenny Kaye

By Lenny Kaye

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Endless Summer

Beach Boys
Sunny optimism and yearning underscored by harmonies

Even as the Beach Boys attempted to deal with their creative malaise and Brian Wilson's disengagement from recording, fate had an ironic masterstroke in store for the band. The Southern California beach paradise of a decade previous must have seemed a carefree nirvana after the upheavals of the later '60s and '70s, and fuel-injected by the success of George Lucas's American Graffiti, Capitol repackaged the best of the Beach Boys' pre-Pet Sounds oeuvre in an anthology that touched on this yearning for a simpler time and a more innocent collective soul (whether fact or nostalgia-hazed fable is another question). Aside from sociological explanations, what made this collection so resonant as to go to number one on the album charts in 1974, even as punk was readying its assaults on rock's dinosaurs, is the sheer quality of the music presented, its sunny optimism and yearning underscored by harmonies that invite the listener to find their own place in the sing-a-long, our universal dreams and desires made into the wish fulfillment of song.