“At 25 I turned out the light/ cause I couldn’t handle the glare in my tired eyes/ but now I’m back drawing shades of kinder skies.” – Going Home
That Lucky Old Sun, Brian Wilson’s latest opus is easily the best album released this year. Wilson has created some of the best compositions of his career and proves why he is the greatest songwriter of all time. The Lucky Old Sun is a love letter to Southern California during the 1950’s and 60’s. The semi-autobiographical and loosely based concept album transforms the listener back to the days when Brian was cranking out hits with his former band. Tracks like “Forever She’ll be My Surfer Girl” and “Good Kind of Love” could have easily been Beach Boys singles while songs like “Going Home” and “Southern California” show a wiser and more introspective side of Wilson’s life. When he sings the first line in “Southern” about his brothers, you can hear the pain, regret and happiness in his voice–raw emotion that can touch anyone. The arrangements are stellar and the level of musicianship found on the album is rarely found on pop releases of today.
The mini narratives that segway songs and certain pieces of music are excellent poetry crafted by longtime collaborator Van Dyke Parks. While Wilson’s previous release Smile was more of a career achievement, Sun is more accessible and worthy of multiple plays. The album works best in one continuous listen but “California Role” and “Live and Let Live” can stand up to any song that’s on the radio now.
The reality is that Brian Wilson is 66 years old and he has arguably created an album that can stand next to Pet Sounds. I hope I can still wipe my own ass when I’m 66. Perfect pitch, complex and sophisticated compositions and strong vocals are nothing for Wilson. He has gone through a renaissance this decade and unfortunately will still be most remembered for his past psychological problems and that lame Barenaked Ladies song.
Every working music producer, artist, fan, executive and intern should experience this album to remember what melody, production and talent really sounds like.
Key Tracks — Southern California, California Role, Live and Let Live, Morning Beat