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Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds

  • PHILIP LAMBERT
Abstract

Pet Sounds, the landmark Beach Boys album of 1966, has received wide acclaim as one of rock’s first ‘concept albums’. It also represents a milestone in the artistic evolution of the group’s primary creative force, Brian Wilson. A thorough examination of the texts and music of the songs of Pet Sounds reveals a unified art work projecting a coherent textual narrative. Songs are associated and interrelated via recurrent motives and harmonic patterns, expressing extremely personal themes of romance and heartbreak. The musical ideas are mostly culminations of Brian Wilson’s earlier work – they are the ‘pet sounds’ that he had been raising and nurturing since the early 1960s – but they appear here in an unprecedented artistic context. Despite Wilson’s continued, if sporadic, productivity in the decades that followed, including the ill-fated Smile project, Pet Sounds stands as his crowning artistic achievement, an album with vast appeal and broad influence.

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Twentieth-Century Music
  • ISSN: 1478-5722
  • EISSN: 1478-5730
  • URL: /core/journals/twentieth-century-music
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