The Beach Boys - The Beach Boys Today! (1965), 4/10

The new and improved Beach Boys show sudden signs of maturity and introspection. The use of varied instrumentation and introspective lyrics from Brian Wilson essentially create an entirely new group. The storytelling is notable as is the generally more interesting sound coming from new layers and textures as well as a much more intentional departure from pre-existing themes. The influence from Spector is clear from the start during the crescendo of “Do You Wanna Dance?” when the song transforms before us to evolve into the new Beach Boys sound. This continues into the second half of the record consisting of ballads but to a lesser degree. The ballads reflect Wilson’s freedom yet hold onto the developing tension he would continue to struggle with, all exacerbated and enhanced by his newfound infatuation with marijuana that inspired focus on lush instrumentation and intentional introspection, both musically and philosophically in his lyrics along with Love. Despite the modern focus on the second half of the record there is a decent consistency of quality in The Beach Boys Today! stemming from their new sound. There are some questionable passages and even some weakly written songs in the first half that warrant this focus, however. Wilson’s focus on narrative songwriting with newly mature themes make the album special yet the more complex musicality makes it continually memorable. While it still represents a maturing and developing group with an overreliance on the abilities of their leader, the album is an enjoyable and endearing look into youthful contemplation.