post brought to you by: dyson
(Ready for the most cliche line ever? Ready, set, go…)
44 years later, the work of musical genius Brian Wilson on Pet Sounds remains as influential as it was the day the record it was released.
(was I right or what?)
That line can be found splattered around thousands of places in print and on the web. But it’s only 3/4 true. The impact Pet Sounds has had on music is actually more prevalent now than it was when it was released. And to confuse you further, that last statement is probably only 1/2 true. Stick with me…
On it’s release, Pet Sounds got some pretty negative reviews. But today if an album comes out and it has great production (or at least a focus on production), it get’s marked up as being influenced by Pet Sounds. If an album comes out that has harmonies on it, well, you can probably guess what’s next. It was supposedly influenced by Pet Sounds.
To give some background, I am one of the many who heard Pet Sounds and debated throwing in the towel when it came to producing and engineering records. It’s a masterpiece. (cliche line #2) Picture being around in ’66 and opening up that vinyl to hear the background vocals on ‘Wouldn’t it Be Nice’ smack you in the face!? Shit, I can’t even imagine.
Every new album that comes out now is influenced by a record or sound that already exists. This can’t be debated. No musician has turned to music, written music, and not listened to any other music before. A lot of artists like to say “Our sound is completely original and like nothing else out there“. Sorry to be a downer for truly creative artists, but you’re going to sound like something that already exists. And please don’t be offended by that. It just can’t be avoided.
The reason Pet Sounds is behind this post is because the more you look, the more you will see it as the album everyone references as the one they are influenced by. It’s almost like artists saying “This product is ‘fair trade’ or ‘all natural'” to make you feel good about liking it. You can slap a guarantee that your album is not terrible by saying Pet Sounds influenced it. (I’ll most likely buy it)
But I’m seeing the increasing trend of this happening and it gets me a bit peeved. If you claim your album is influenced by Pet Sounds and can’t name the last track on the album without blinking an eye, then I call bull. To be truly influenced by an album you must have lived and breathed it. Otherwise your music would not have that influence in it.
Sorry, this is a very touchy subject for me. But please don’t use Pet Sounds as a way to make the album more credible (and this goes for artists, reviewers, and bloggers) by saying it was influenced by Pet Sounds. This is one music fan who will take that claim very seriously.
I’ll finally leave you with one example. Fleet Foxes self titled was made out to be completely influenced by Pet Sounds. Holy crap! They have harmonies on the album!! There is literally one song and only about 1 minute of it that I can safely say “Yes, this is influenced by The Beach Boys”. And notice I used The Beach Boys for the example. That’s because it’s actually influenced by ‘Smile’ and not Pet Sounds. Give it a listen and go forth and prosper. (what?)