Brian Wilson
That Lucky Old Sun (Capitol)


Brian Wilson has “apparently got his ambition back,” said Chris Willman in Entertainment Weekly. In 2004 the aging Beach Boy completed his “lost opus,” Smile—the 1967 album he had abandoned amid a notorious mental breakdown—and Wilson has been on a creative kick ever since. That Lucky Old Sun marks the fifth album of new solo material for the 66-year-old. And “it’s a breakthrough,” said Jon Pareles in The New York Times. More compact and commercial than Smile, the album is an homage to Wilson’s sunny home state of California. Conceptualized as “a day in the life of Los Angeles,” the 17-track disc is “packed, even overstuffed with echoes of his Beach Boys marvels: chugging rhythms, creamy vocal harmonies, omm-mow-mow nonsense syllables,” and all of those beloved, loopy instruments. Wilson keeps the melodies bright and the lyrics even lighter, though, which occasionally turns the album into a pastiche of “past glories.” Wilson does draw on his past, said David Quantick in Uncut. But he entwines his music with his personal history. Tracks such as “Going Home” and “Midnight’s Another Day” provide a telling look inside this master craftsman’s mind. Few records this year have as “much force, verve, and sheer musical imagination as That Lucky Old Sun.”