Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)

For those familiar with my petulant fumings over the paltry relics of a musical era long past, you should know that I usually do not bestow heaps of pointless praise on albums that are otherwise made to have us fawn and froth over. Greatest album ever made? Hardly. The fact that Rubber Soul -- itself a horrible musical truncheon smashed against my face -- begat this middling morass of musical muck utterly astounds me. Granted, I do like some of it -- but the production, the "influence", the cockamamy of bells and whistle melodies with or without harpsichord is of no consequence to me. I am undeterred by any particular zeitgeist -- in truth, not having been born even remotely close to this album only strengthens the fact that I can't get nostalgic with it. Did this sounds fresh and exciting, then? Most likely. But I don't listen to an album because of its importance, or its value, or the fact that it conjures up some pleasant memory -- I listen to it because I like it; and besides "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows," Sloop John B" and "Here Today," this album is fucking gobbidge. Just because the Mesopotamians invented the wheel doesn't make them the greatest civilization (especially now that we've made a ruin of it). D+


Master Cianan said...

Shit! I know you better than to think that you'd give it a shitty rating just to be iconoclastic, but shit! What more can I say? Shit!

The Mad Hatter said...

Iconoclastic? Oh, that's a dirty word, and I am insulted. This got a shitty rating because this is a shitty album. Period. There are many more before it and many after it, but none so ambitious as this -- I'll give you that.

Master Cianan said...

Nobody's accusing you of iconoclasm. I'll accuse you of hating on a good album, though. I agree with you on the "high points" of the album, but while those songs are indeed great, the rest of the record is still pretty good.

I bet you secretly dance around to "kokomo" and sing along when nobody's looking. In nothing but black socks. hater.

The Mad Hatter said...

Highly unlikely. However, I do secretly harbor a wish to eat Cheetos in a Gene Simmons get-up while playing "Icky Thump" backwards. None of which changes the inherent blech of this album.

Master Cianan said...

"unlikely"... but no denial.

Jeff said...

I've never seen what was so great about this album. Maybe it's just a little to fluffy for me, but hating Rubber Soul??? Even taking it out of its historical context, it's one of the best albums ever in my opinion. Songs like "In my Life", "Michelle", "Nowhere Man" and "Run for Your Life" are unforgettably fantastic. Maybe you're just not into the cheerful music.

Master Cianan said...

Jeff, I tell you, this guy hates almost anything upbeat. And to be fair, most of it is pretty crummy, but sometimes it just works. Unless you're the mad hatter, who is the only person I've met more accomplished in his misanthropy than I. He could watch a 4 year old girl dancing in the kitchen to "sir duke" with a glass of milk in one hand and a cookie in the other and walk up and kick her in the knee.

The Mad Hatter said...

Actually, she would be short enough that I could just kick her in the face. Semantics. And while it is true that I am not particularly enamored with "upbeat" songs, it's more for their superficiality or false sentimentality than for their being "upbeat." Stevie Wonder is upbeat, and I dig the shit out of him. The Beatles? It was only when they began taking heavy doses of drugs that they became authentic, and that's why I like that stuff. Oh, and I'd eat the little girl's cookie, too.

Jeff said...

I think Rubber Soul is an authentic album. Musically it is a far cry from earlier albums like Please Please Me. The music is much deeper and creative, like the use of the sitar on "Norwegian Wood" and the deeper lyrics which weren't the typical cliche lyrics of "I Want to Hold Your Hand". I think the Beatles became "authentic" starting with Rubber Soul.

Master Cianan said...

Sometimes false sentimentality and superficiality mate with a good hook and whammo! You've got an awesome song in spite of itself. Sometimes our brains crave some junk food, which is why I shamelessly enjoy rambo movies and Puffy.

The Mad Hatter said...


When I was a child I was administered an anti-Beatle serum and so can only agree with you when it begins to wear off. Seriously, I'm just not a fan; even their later work, considering it's leagues and bounds above their earlier work, doesn't stack up to other music of that era or what would follow.

Master Cianan,

I cannot argue with you. While I prefer other junk food over the Beach Boys or Beatles, I am known for my crass indulgences as well. Ahem. Another time.

taotechuck said...

Dear God,

Thank you for your blessings on this day. By leading me to this page, you have given me a feast of snark, hating, Pet Sounds hating, Beatles hating, food metaphors, and extreme violence against happiness. I don't even know where to begin, Lord. My cup runneth over. Thank you, and praise be.


(Since I'm not really down with the whole Christianity thing, is "Amen" the proper closing or would "Best regards" be more appropriate?)

taotechuck said...

Now that I've prayed, let me begin.

1) "middling morass of musical muck" is the best description of Pet Sounds I've ever heard.

2) Did we make a ruin of civilization, or of the wheel? Your sentence structure was kind of confusing.

3) Everybody knows that Boston, MA in the early 1970s was the greatest culture, not Mesopotamia. I mean, did Mesopotamia give us Aerosmith and Boston and the J. Geils Band? I rest my case.

4) "This got a shitty rating because this is a shitty album." C is probably more appropriate than D+, but the album deserves to get knocked down a full letter grade for all the douchebag record critics who lionize it. Bands deserve to be punished for the actions of record critics.

5) Jeff, your argument about sitars would suggest that Bollywood films are deep because they, uh, have sitar in them.

6) Hatter, I'll totally distract you with some Smiths and then steal the cookie while you're prancing around to Morrissey. (I'm assuming the milk was spilled during the kick to the face.)

7) As long as we're hating on crappy, overrated albums, can we talk about Appetite for Destruction?

Master Cianan said...


a C? I agree with you about the record critics, but I'd call it a good solid B. Appetite, though... yeah, let's rag on it. That was the one album that people had during the 90s and listened to in secret while they put on a public face of hating buttrock. When anyone else discovered it in their CD collections, it was explained away as being "ironic", like mustaches are today. Well, Mustaches are as cool as they ever were, as Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, and even Alex Trebek proved when they eventually shaved them off. And while appetite has a handful of good points, I don't like GnR for the same reason I don't like Tool: Weak fucking riffs. Yeah, Axl sucks, as does his singing, but the greater crime is guitar rock with riffs that sound like flaccid penises thrust into your ears. Good solos, but every time I hear "mr. brownstone" I want to die rather than hear that lame, lame riff.

for the record, I spent much of the 90s celebrating buttrock, because that shit was FUN. But I have never owned a single GnR record. I preferred to torture others with the first side of "slippery when wet". One of my many guilty pleasures.

Master Cianan said...

oo, to clarify, when Burt, Tom, and Alex shaved, everyone was bummed.

because a good mustache is awesome. A bad, pube-looking mustache, though... well, That looks how GnR sounds.

The Mad Hatter said...

OMFG. I'm about to wet myself in laughter.


Hilarious. And the confusion on the ruin is purposeful.

Master Cianan,

Hilarious. But you're still misguided about Pet Sounds.

Just as I'm misguided when I say that, I shit you not, I started on my review of Appetite before yesterday, and I love it! There's a story behind it, and I will show and tell, hehe.

Malcolm said...

Even if I disagree with your grade of "Pet Sounds", I can respect someone who isn't afraid to come out and say they don't like something that many consider great. Since you aren't particularly down with upbeat songs, you probably disliked "Pet Sounds" from the get go because you can't get much more upbeat than the album's opener (Wouldn't It Be Nice).

The Mad Hatter said...


I actually like "Wouldn't It Be Nice." I'm not sure why, but what was to follow was much too much or me to handle in any pleasant kind of way.