NO PIER PRESSURE
By Gillian G. Gaar
“No Pier Pressure” is Brian Wilson’s first album at new material since 2008’s “That Lucky Old Sun” (though the intervening years did see the release of 2010’s “Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin” and 2011’s “In the Key of Disney”). There’s a nice pun in the title; a statement that Wilson doesn’t feel any pressure to live up to his storied past, perhaps?
Some of these songs were originally intended for a follow-up to the Beach Boys’ 2012 reunion album “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” Inner band turmoil put paid to that notion, but there’s still a partial Beach Boys presence on the album. You can’t miss those gorgeous trademark harmonies on “What Ever Happened,” which features Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks, for example. It’s trademark Wilson. too, a song that looks back sadly at the changes time has brought, along with an underlying wariness about the future (“What’s going to happen to me?”). You’ll find a similar melancholy on “The Right Time” (with Jardine and Marks), and “Tell Me Why” (with Jardine), though the upbeat “Sail Away” (with Jardine and the Beach Boys’ Blondie Chaplin) has a more optimistic mood.
There are a number of other guest appearances on the album, though Wilson has enough of a voice to carry the show on his own. “On the Island” (guest vocalist Zooey Deschanel) and “Guess You Had to Be There” (guest vocalist Kacey Musgraves) veer too close to easy listening. But trumpeter Mark Isham is a nice choice for the instrumental “Half Moon Bay.”
And Wilson’s sad, sweet voice bookends the album, opening with “This Beautiful Day” (with sunny sentiments such as “Life goes on and on/like your favorite song”) and closing with “The Last Song,” with lines like “There’s never enough time enough for the ones that you love” that will tug on your heartstrings. Wilson’s in fine form on this album, which should please his fans; he’ll also be following up the album’s release with a tour.
A final note: the deluxe edition of the album has three more tracks than the standard edition, so that’s the one to buy.
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