Sunday, July 4, 2010


Monday, September 22, 2008 

The sun burns a hole in the 6AM haze / Turns up the volume and shows off its rays / Another dodger blue sky is crowning L.A / The city of angels is blessed every day / That lucky old sun smiles on me – Morning Beat

It's safe to say those living in South Central won't recognise Wilson's version of L.A, but That Lucky Old Sun, a song-cycle written with Van Dyke Parks with whom Wilson was responsible for many of the finest songs of the late sixties, is essentially an examination of self and place. If Smile, released in 2004, cleared out Wilson's writers block, this album see him reverting even deeper into his past recalling his first love and inspiration from the city that has clearly given him so much. If Smile was for pleasing the fans, this is an album for himself.

While by no means as complex as Smile, That Lucky Old Sun veers between wincingly corny and the odd flash of genius that most of us will recognise. Unlike his contemporaries the inherent childlike sincerity to his worldview means Wilson never flirts with a smugness that could come from an album about a troubled but successful individual's relationship with L.A while reliving their sun-kissed youth. Instead the thematic link of this day-as-an-album is one of a contentedness and a happy reflection on childhood. Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl openly apes his early 60s trademark concerns while the closing three tracks are possibly his best work since 1977's The Beach Boys' Love You album.

The four narratives penned by Van Dyke Parks concern a searching for the heartbeat of L.A, which is partly what moves this album along, Wilson's awkward but appealing phrasing aside. Like the 1940's hit song that gives it's title to this album (also recurring four times throughout the cycle), it depicts a hard-working man and a lazy old sun, this is also a dissection of Wilson's search for his original motivation and as deep a look into his state of mind as we're like to get.

The backing band is adequate. They do manage to hit the high notes he no longer can with an at-times eerie likeness to Brian's brothers, but there is a lot of calculation and aiming to recreate which serves the sense of nostalgia well but does keep the original brilliance at the forefront of our mind. Midnight's Another Day is a sweet and dramatic ascension into Wilson's history "chapters missing, pages torn". It's one of the few tracks that can exist as both a connection to his best work examining solitude and self-doubt, and as a wonderful song in it's own right. Like the album as a whole, it shows that even with most of his vocal range gone, he can still pen a tune that makes it dusty in here.

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