“No Pier Pressure” by Brian Wilson — Album Review

Brian Wilson‘s newest album, No Pier Pressure, is doing weird things to me. It’s messing me up emotionally–really, I’m serious. Certain moments from this album have been playing over & over in my head since I first spun the record earlier this week. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time music moved me this much. Typically, if I’m moved at all by a song, it’s due to the lyrics. While some beautiful lyrics are paired with beautiful sounds in No Pier Pressure, in general, the lyrics take a backseat to the sounds. This isn’t new, though–Wilson has always had a knack for capturing emotion in sound (even in his earliest days with The Beach Boys).

Below is my track-by-track ranking of No Pier Pressure (Deluxe Edition), with a few thoughts thrown in for each one. I hope you will consider listening to this album, as it is quite possibly the last LP we’ll get from the musical legend that is Brian Wilson–but if not, at least consider giving a few of my top song picks a listen. 🙂



1. Just masterful. The pre-chorus & chorus are breathtaking, both musically & lyrically. The background vocals absolutely floor me–I can’t get enough of them. (I also love the subtle organ pulse in the pre-chorus–very reminiscent of The Beach Boys’ Love You album. Oo, & those synth-horns are super tasty.) The heartbreak in this song is palpable: “But now you’re gone and I gotta get on with my life…”



2. “There’s never enough time for the ones that you love.” You could write this lyric off as cliché, but as it is repeated at the musical climax of the album, it is irresistibly moving. A near-perfect album closer. (Isn’t that timpani part perfect?!)



3. Call me crazy, but this disco-infused-cheeze-fest is one of my favorites because it is so friggin’ catchy & uplifting.



4. A mere 30 seconds was all that was needed for my ears to fall in love with this track. A simple & beautiful album opener.



5. When I listen to this song (the first single off of the album), I say to myself, “Who else is making music like this today?”



6. The gold is in the pre-chorus–Wilson hits some nice notes. The chorus feels a bit overstuffed lyrically & the drums nearly ruin it–but these negatives don’t outweigh the positives of the track.



7. I would describe this track as “neat”. All neat things here: neat guitar parts, neat Kacey Musgraves feature, neat lyrics, &–as per usual–neat background vocals.



8. The verses are very pretty, but something bothers me about the chorus. I wish I liked this track more, but I just don’t.



9. This one is the oddball on the album. Zooey Deschanel really nails it in a way I don’t think Wilson could–it’s all in her vocal inflections, which aptly match the feel & lyrical content.



10. I like the lyrics, but I think they would’ve been put to better use in a slow, sad tune so as to maximize the depression lol.



11. This song is a needless re-working of an old Beach Boys’ instrumental, “Summer Means New Love“. Merely pleasant.



12. “Sloop John B” + “Sail On, Sailor” + 21st century = this song. Background vocals are really great, but I’m really struggling with overall bubbly feel, distracting drums, & whatever that accordion-like popping sounding is. (It also doesn’t help that the two songs it is reminiscent of are both better songs.)



13. Brian Wilson fans are struggling with this one because it doesn’t sound at all like Brian Wilson. I mean, it sounds like he’s singing on this track, of course–but other than that it bears no recognizable Wilson mark. Also, it just sounds like a song rejected from the 80’s.



14. You could say this song is fun. But I just don’t see anything special about it–feels terribly standard. It suffers most from its lack of Wilson (save the bridge, which is–surprise!–the best part of the song).



15. Not sure why this is even on the album. Sure, I guess it’s pretty. But I think it suffers–as odd as this sounds–from the solo parts, which I think are distracting from the more important “background”.



16. Every album’s got a turd.


pebbles & trebles,
Chad

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3 thoughts on ““No Pier Pressure” by Brian Wilson — Album Review

  1. Fun review, Chad! I haven’t gotten the album, but I listened to most of the songs here. I think I liked “The Last Song” best. And while it’s a little short, I really enjoyed the one featuring She & Him; their first album is one of my favorites, though I think some of their later stuff has diminishing returns. That song may sound incongruous on the album as whole, I don’t know, but it has a gorgeous sound to it.

    It’s funny–while you seem really high on the album as a whole, as near as I can tell you think about half the songs are kinda meh. Oh, and if every album’s got a turd, what is it for Pet Sounds? 😉

    • It’s interesting, actually, how I’ve come to really like this album. My first run through it I was hardly impressed, because I knew right away that a good number of the songs were duds or just okay. But it didn’t take long for me to see that the highs of ‘No Pier Pressure’ are really, really high–like, better than almost anything on ‘That Lucky Old Sun’ (his previous solo LP) and even ‘That’s Why God Made the Radio’ (the last Beach Boys album).

      The turd on ‘Pet Sounds’ is ‘Pet Sounds’. 🙂 (And just for fun, it’s oddball is ‘Sloop John B’.)

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