Review: The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made the Radio

Posted: June 13, 2012 in Reviews

The Beach Boys, Californian 1960s pop-rock group who competed for the charts with The Beatles in their heyday, finally returned after a long period of various hiatuses, breakups, deaths, lawsuits and turmoil.  On June 5, 2012, remaining Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, who first formed the band in 1961 with his brothers, Dennis and Carl, and his abusive managing-father, Murry, founding guitarist and singer Al Jardine, founding singer and cousin of the Wilson brothers Mike Love, long-absent guitarist and singer David Marks, and singer Bruce Johnston, released their first record of new material in twenty years.

That’s Why God Made the Radio feels like 1965 all over again, with its classic Beach Boys harmonies, and its shallow, happy-go-lucky, fun-in-the-sun thematic content.  The record kicks off with a gorgeous instrumental, “Think About the Days,” and often, brief interlude tracks of this kind can seem like filler, though That’s Why God Made the Radio’s opener is totally necessary.  It also sets the tone for the album: lots and lots of harmonies (sometimes they even tend to overwhelm a bit), perfect studio production, and peppy, light music, brilliantly composed mainly by Wilson and Love with help from the other Beach Boys as well as some outside help from Jon Bon Jovi and Jim Peterik of “Eye of the Tiger” performers, Survivor.

The next few tracks, “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” the lead single, which leaked onto the internet on April 25, 2012, “Isn’t it Time” and “Spring Vacation” are the strongest on the record.  The lead single is especially wonderful and lives up to the legacy of classics like “Surfin USA” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”  Though it is difficult to credit the Beach Boys with being brilliant poetic lyricists, the lyrical content on these three tracks is the strongest.  Perhaps, the appeal of these early tracks is partially because the album becomes redundant about halfway through.  The Beach Boys have one style and hearing the same harmonies, the same chord progressions, the same song structures takes away very slightly from the overall qualitiy of the record.  Every song on the record, nonetheless, is single worthy, just like almost every Beach Boys track ever released.  It is incredible that the Beach Boys were able to make a record so nostalgic and classic-sounding in the year of the their 50th anniversary.  Lastly, the album is a fun, easy listen, and it lives up to past releases.

Definitely give That’s Why God Made the Radio a good, solid listen, keeping in mind that these guys are all well past sixty years old, some as old as 71.  Knowing that, and remembering that you cannot hear their age in their vocals, That’s Why God Made the Radio is all it could and should be: a fun, Summery, Beach Boys album that sounds like every other Beach Boys album.  Lie down on a beach or a sun-washed field somewhere, close your eyes, and just allow the joy of these happy tunes to wash over you.

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