The Beatles - Rubber Soul (1965), 5/10

The Beatles show a significant stride forward in musicality and maturity with Rubber Soul yet are still held back by prevailing sensibilities in subject matter and execution, to an extent. Things begin on solid footing with “Drive My Car” and the highlight of the record in “Norwegian Wood” before alternating back and forth between trite and passably interesting songs. The trend of Rubber Soul is that the songs either lack a worthwhile subject matter or any sense of substantiality in its music, with a few individual exceptions. Many of its songs have been given enough playtime to be lumped in with the band’s better work, but do not hold up against future efforts. “If I Needed Someone” for instance is reminiscent of the simply poor efforts that precede this step forward into musical maturity. The fact that the album represents only the second wholly original work tells us that its efforts are part of a process moving toward maturity but still growing out of infantile tendencies. They are beginning to write interesting lyrics, though some of the execution is still juvenile, they are beginning to compile more interesting arrangements, though most are slapped together rather than beautifully assembled as in later works, and the album itself is still inhibited by a lack of focus, making it appear jagged and intermittently captivating. The Beatles were still working on the process of creating an album worth listening to, fortunately Rubber Soul finally breaks that barrier that had so long eluded the young group apart from the lucky success of their first. The group finally showed enough intent and focus to create something approaching artful rather than banal. Certainly a transitional album, it suffers from the setbacks of growing pains, but still offers enough in the way of individually compelling songs to be one of their best early records.