In case you forgot (and because it may be the only thing he remembers), Brian Wilson would like to officially remind you that he loves southern California. A lot. So much so that he’s crafted a massively bloated, half-sung/half spoken-word musical tribute to the mythically sunsplashed vistas that stretch from Hollywood to Venice Beach but are only utopic within the lysergically hammered wrinkles of this Beach Boy’s brain.
Although Wilson has proven that he is incredibly capable of reaching into his back pages to reanimate the various musical periods of his life (2004’s SMiLE so deftly, brilliantly resurrected and built upon 1966’s Smile that I began to wonder if Wilson is in possession of a little deuce coupe with a flux capacitor), That Lucky Old Sun is content to revamp such turgid and overproduced mid-’70s bombastica as Holland and 15 Big Ones rather than the sparkling pet sounds of the his late-’60s work.
Some of it works — “Southern California” ‘s honey-harmony’d and piano-led wistful look at the history of the Beach Boys in specific and SoCal in general is rather touching. But the rest of the album, especially the overwrought spoken-word interludes, remains a series of harmonized thuds and (however pretty) blank-eyed lobotomy-pop.
If Wilson continues to revisit his earlier musical eras, does this mean that we must brace ourselves for the eventual horror of a Brian Wilson (1988) or I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times (1995) rewrite? God only knows.