Pet Sounds is probably the album that started my whole music focused lifestyle. When anyone talked about The Beach Boys, of course their surfing and summer hits are what came to mind for me. Who hasn’t heard “Good Vibrations” (admittedly a great song in its own part) and “Surfin’ USA”? Really until I had heard Pet Sounds, I never gave it much thought of being one of the best albums I would ever hear.
For me, Pet Sounds seems to be a story in two parts. Maybe I think too much into it and some songs are out of place in the story. Starting off with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, it’s the loving, happy-go-lucky song about two lovers dreaming about being together if they ever got married, but are too young to do so.
The continuing songs of Pet Sounds perhaps talk about the struggles and mishaps of being a young couple in love adjusting and dealing with an “adult” lifestyle. Brian Wilson aimed for the themes of the album to be aimed at something kids could relate to. We see the story fall into confusion and times of uncertainty with the song “That’s Not Me.”
The happy hopeful story at the beginning of the album starts to go downhill. “Here Today” details the questioning of a new love, knowing that the past has brought pain, but this one is “really an exception.” Detailing the seclusion and alienation of someone who feels out of place in the present day, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” sounds sad and disorienting even from the title.
“Pet Sounds” seems like a simple instrumental. However, this is one of the more melancholy instrumentals I’ve ever heard. It’s the perfect lead-up to the ending track, “Caroline No”. It was inspired by both the feelings of Brian as well as Tony Asher, who had recently broken up with his girlfriend Carol. Finally, in a heart-breaking last two minutes of the album, it details the sadness and depression of gradual change with sudden appearance differences like the noted cutting of the long hair which is a symbol of a carefree attitude.
Ending with two rhetorical questions which the narrator already knows the answer to, Pet Sounds closes with a train that leaves you empty and torn from your emotional journey, as well as some of Brian’s dogs barking.
To me, Pet Sounds is an album that is complete and finished all the way through. The story telling through lyricism and the overall mood shift of happy-go-lucky to somber and regretful truly make it feel like the events are unfolding all around. Pet Sounds will always hold a special place in my heart. It opened me up to the world of music I had never known existed.
- “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”
- “You Still Believe in Me”
- “That’s Not Me”
- “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”
- “I’m Waiting for the Day”
- “Let’s Go Away for Awhile”
- “Sloop John B”
- “God Only Knows”
- “I Know There’s an Answer”
- “Here Today”
- “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”
- “Pet Sounds”
- “Caroline, No”
Bolded are my personal favorites.