Sound: Southern California is probably best known for its sunny weather, giant palm trees, gorgeous beaches, deep-tanned bodies, and as the nesting ground for the music of The Beach Boys. One has to wonder how many times The Beach Boys music label can resurrect the band's timeless classics and hidden recordings. Thus far, the label has not exhausted all of its options. Capitol/EMI has released The Beach Boys' latest compilation, Summer Love Songs, which contains some of the band's most popular hits like "Californa Girls" and "Help me Rhonda" along with one previously unreleased track, "Fallin' In Love" that was written and sung by the band's drummer Dennis Wilson during The Beach Boys' Sunflower album sessions in 1970. The track was never released in the US, but was released in the UK under the song title "Lady" and has been out of print for more than two decades. The track set the band up on a modern-pop trajectory moving away from their signature doowop stylized vocal harmonies and SoCal-pop propulsions of the band's standards like "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Surfer Girl." The tune has orchesrtral under-lacings with sleighs of clarion violins and misty ambient acoustics propping velvety textures and stoked in modern-pop flambeaus. It is unlike any of the group's best known work, and yet, it is undeniably a Beach Boys tune.
The Beach Boys have gone through several line-up changes over the years but at the core has been the Wilson brothers, Brian on bass, Carl on guitar, and Dennis on drums with their cousin Mike Love on lead vocals and their friend Alan Jardine on vocals and guitar. The band composed a mix of tranquilizing ballads and sun-kissed, beach-party romps. They carved out a niche for themselves that made people around the world sing and sway to their sunny-pop tunes, and many tracks have even become several couples wedding songs. With most of their songs made for guys to serenade their girl with, The Beach Boys gave milky, cruising grooves, soft grazing guitar rustles, and low-lit, summery acoustics their chance to shine in mainstream-pop's marketplace. The band's tracks are lodged in global memory banks, like the delicately wafting vapors of "Girls On The Beach," the upbeat jangly ripples of "God Only Knows," and the juicy grooves of "Good To My Baby." The guitar riffs are stylish and unpretentious depicting a tin-like resonance through "In The Parkin' Lot," a carousal-ride spinning in "Time To Get Alone," and gentle stroking across the plush bedding of "Hushabye." Summer Love Songs showcases some of The Beach Boys finest love songs and best crafted doowop tunage from their archives. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics range from serenades to romanticizing about women. Some serenades are positively milksoppy like "God Only Knows" with verses like, "If you should ever leave me / Though life would still go on, believe me / The world could show nothing to me / So what good would living do me." Other songs are odes to women in general like "California Girls" where Mike Love projects, "I've been all around this great big world and I've seen all kinds of girls / Yeah, but I couldn't wait to get back in the States, back to the cutest girls in the world / I wish they all could be California Girls." The lyrics were specifically designed for audiences to sing along to them and feel bonded to them. // 8
Overall Impression: Summer Love Songs is a chest of dated tunes that recall of '60s doowop and sunny-pop musings, but there are a few tracks with a modern-pop glint and orchestral trajectory like "Fallin' In Love," "Time To Get Alone" and "Our Sweet Love." Fans of The Beach Boys will enjoy the album the most, and for everyone else, the album is a snippet of good old-fashioned doowop and '60s pop heaven. The compilation re-enforces The Beach Boys longevity as dream-pop artisans and bards of romanticism. // 8