Album Review: The Beach Boys - That's Why God Made The Radio

29 May 2012 | 6:37 pm | Michael Smith

There’s no denying it – the magic’s still there, 50 years on.

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There's no denying it – the magic's still there, 50 years on. Lyrically they may still be on a sunny California beach in 1963, but hey, isn't that a great place to hang? Of course the images this reunion of the surviving members of The Beach Boys create are as illusory as those evoked by phrases like “summer of love” and names like Woodstock, but the point of music is to take you away somewhere, and a more innocent place and time is as valid as any other if you're willing to go along for the ride.

And with those trademark harmonies uniquely arranged by The Beach Boys, their roots in doo-wop, barbershop and Phil Spector, that ride is so effortless. Add production sensitive enough not to mess with the original template – double-tracked vocals, just the right amount of reverb, plonky bass – and, while it's a more sedate Beach Boys than the adrenaline rush of their classic '60s singles, That's Why God Made The Radio is a delightful bit of ear candy up their unashamedly with their best – it's certainly the best album to come out under The Beach Boys' name in 30-odd years.

That said, it's not the next logical step up from the legendary unfinished masterpiece, Smile, released last year – their ostensible reply to The Beatles' Sgt Peppers – the making of which finally tipped frontman Brian Wilson over the edge. It's too late for that. Music has exploded out in so many directions and embraced so many experiments and innovations that no band with such a distinctive sonic fingerprint could ever hope to achieve that now, so many years after their last real masterpiece, 1966's Pet Sounds.