Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we sort through the best and worst of America’s saddest band to ever make the happiest music.
Make no mistake, The Beach Boys were weird. Weirder than Waits, weirder than Zappa, and definitely weirder than The Beatles. The immaculate vocal harmony that made them famous was their weirdest weapon of all; a sunny fortress of euphony that shone through the darkest of times and strangest of lyrics in their latter days. You can take the boy out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the boy, even when that boy starts hanging out with Charles Manson. The bizarre juxtaposition made for a varied career of milestones and clunkers, all of them interesting.
Following Pet Sounds, every record was a document of the band slowly falling apart, and we’re about to take you through all of them (with the exception of the Christmas Album and live in-studio cover release, Party!); from the girls and auto-fueled glory of the early days to the hazy experimentation of the ’70s to the wretched ’80s when the group tried to reclaim their wholesomeness only to find that it had all but disappeared. For any music fan, the schizophrenic discography is both essential and disposable, demented and fluffy, hiply square and squarely hip. And by the end, it will have very little to do with surfing. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beach Boys.
Senior Staff Writer