The Mama's and The Papa's - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966), 4/10

The ironically titled If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears hardly challenges the boundaries of perception, rather culminating in a straightforward pop sound that would be replicated many times since. The album’s two best tracks in “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin’” are better written than the rest outside of standards but still never break the barrier of greatness. There are some other mildly interesting tracks such as “Spanish Harlem”, but they are only interesting for their deviation from the album’s consistently soft sounds. Sunshine pop has its inherent limits but would be executed more creatively in the following years and the next decade. A song such as “Somebody Groovy” foreshadows even further into the history of pop songwriting, but musically represents a devolution within the album. There is nothing inspiring or creative to hold onto in the music of The Mama’s and The Papa’s, leaving an emptiness that pales in comparison to other more inventive or even remotely originative works of the mid-sixties. While there is not a remarkably awful song on the record despite a general decline in quality as it progresses, there is nothing extraordinary either from a musical perspective, only from the standpoint of commercial success. Technically the group has plenty to offer, so this introduction of the “hippy” sound is disappointing at best and mediocre at its worst.