Monday, May 16, 2016

Pet Sounds

A post where I have a conflicted discussion with myself about how much Pet Sounds means to me.

Pet Sounds is fifty years old today from its point of being released. It's quite an odd record in many  respects but since that point it has gradually established itself as the greatest Rock and Roll record ever made through a gradual process of consensus until it's been canonised as the absolute state of the art album that all others need to be measured up against. Such is the process of time.

There are reasons why it's achieved this status. For setting the bar in early days as the music market shifted from singles to albums. For understanding that there was an essential difference between 45s and the longer format which was set to be based on introversion and inner space, an idea which other, similar artists picked up and ran with, heading towards a different listening experience which we've all got used to and set our lives around ever since. For better or worse.

Listening to the record is a slightly cloying experience at fifty years remove, at least for me. Clogged with self-pity as well as wonder, despite it's obvious technical excellence. It's a point of removal from the immediate space, which paves the ground for the Roger Waters Floyd, The Eagles, Prog Rock and Radiohead but has very little to do with Punk Rock of any sort or for that matter any music which directed itself outwards rather than inwards, that's been released since then.

I'll never really love the whole of Pet Sounds personally although I do love a lot of the moments of exquisite beauty within it, because it's very difficult to locate its heart, despite its very obvious merits. All the very best records have a beating heart which you can locate immediately. Pet Sounds starts the grand high jump for the album format early on and also shifts the focus from singles to albums but also establishes a precedent that is still quite regrettable in many respects in terms of its introspection .

Still, I'm conflicted myself having listened through to it just now and been drawn into the tracks I do find completely wonderful in every way on there. Anyway, I''ll keep having the discussion and we'll see where we are ten or twenty years down the line. Pet Sounds will still be here.

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