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The Beach Boys

That's Why God Made the Radio (Capitol)

Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., July 20, 2012

Phases & Stages

The Beach Boys

That's Why God Made the Radio (Capitol)

Hatched in the wake of multiple intra-band lawsuits, That's Why God Made the Radio ebbs and flows the Beach Boys' most cohesive album since 1977's Love You, the final LP that the Wilson brothers – Brian, Dennis, and Carl – collaborated on at a functioning peak. The lyricless "Think About the Days" opens as mission statement, surviving band members emerging with harmonies intact as last Wilson sibling Brian provides a Bacharach-like piano melody to set an autumnal mood. The gorgeous title track, co-written by Ides of March/Survivor founder Jim Peterik, is an unapologetic slice of radio nostalgia, the undertow of impending twilight giving the song even more emotional heft. Subsequent retrospectives won't be complete without it. "Isn't It Time" evokes the band's mid-Seventies high points with clap-along charm, while the island-flavored "The Private Life of Bill and Sue" is Brian's lightly humored dig at reality TV. The album sags toward the middle, but it never collapses. Even Mike Love acquits himself with the inoffensive "Daybreak Over the Ocean." "Summer's Gone" provides a lush, elegiac climax that recalls "Caroline, No" on its slow fade to raindrops and wind chimes. This time, the end of a relationship is superseded by the end of life. If only all legacy-burnishing attempts could be this effective.

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