The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), 7/10

Obviously important to the evolution of rock music and the popularization of the concept album (as silly as that sounds in hindsight), but Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a pleasure to listen to regardless of its context or time. It isn't my favorite work from The Beatles, but it is simultaneously an easy listen while still offering more depth in its details each time you return. That is plenty reason to keep me coming back year after year, even after listening to this record countless times in my youth. Maybe even until I'm sixty-four. Time will tell. Still, it is hard not to compare such a record with their other work, and it is far too simple in theme and sound, and even too inconsistent to rival the white album in quality, and while it is not as consistent as Revolver I can go back and forth on which album I'd prefer if I had to choose just one. The legendary songs are not even necessarily their best, apart from the objectively forward-thinking "A Day in the Life" they are rather bare bones despite the solid amount of material produced for the album's release. The songs I find myself enjoying more after so many repeated listens are in fact some of the least ambitious such as the Ringo led "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", which despite its use of tape feels pretty tame at this stage and in comparison to some of their other, more fleshed out ideas and themes. It feels more like a launching pad than a fully realized concept, both in theme and execution considering the brevity of anything you could call a concept, yet it is such a strong launching pad for such an important and progressive group of musicians that its impact is felt palpably, even within the limited ethos of such a confined and restrained album experience. The catchy and infectious nature of the weaker songs seem to carry enough weight to elevate the rest, resulting in a still solid listening experience, rounded out by some sparse progressive experimentation with sound.