"Pet Sounds" was a groundbreaking record, and had a huge impact on other musicians. It is definitely the high-water mark for the Beach Boys. This is not anything like their early Jan & Dean-inspired surf music. It invented a whole new vocabulary of sounds and forms for pop music.More than ever before, the Beach Boys' leader, Brian Wilson, decided he was going to go in a new direction and write a cohesive album, over the protests of many others in the band. He was definitely right. The Beach Boys never reached this level of creativity again, but "Pet Sounds" was enough to put them in the pantheon of the greats, even if this quality of artistic achievement was not sustained over time.Wilson says he was inspired to make the record by the Beatles' "Rubber Soul" album. The Beatles in turn credited "Pet Sounds" as the inspiration for "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Paul McCartney still says he is crazy about the album, John Lennon even acknowledged it, and George Martin said Sgt Pepper's would never have been made without "Pet Sounds". Eric Clapton says it's one of the greatest pop albums of all time and Elton John talks about how it changed the way he and everyone else approached recording. I say this just to underline that it's hard to underestimate the impact this record had on the development of popular music as we know it.There are plenty of "greatest hits" here. The album starts out with the classic "Wouldn't It Be Nice", one of the most optimistic and upbeat romantic pop hits ever — and which also includes incredible layers of sound that deserve a good listening to with headphones. "God Only Knows" was the B-side to that single, but became a major hit on its own. "Caroline, No", "Sloop John B", "Let's Go Away for a While" and "Here Today" were also singles and are probably known at some level by most listeners.But don't just get it for the hits. A lot of the other songs are slower and more complex, but are really marvels of both pop composition and sound engineering, especially when you think about the 1960s technology they were working with. There are layers upon layers of crystal-clear sounds to enjoy and get lost in.This album is every bit as impressive a recording as something like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" — it just seems "lighter" because, well, it is. It's an optimistic, feel-good record even when its gets sad and melancholy, which it does pretty often.
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