thu 18/10/2018

CD: Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure

CD: Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure

The Beach Boy has swapped depth for a play in the shallows

No Pier Pressure: the pun's about as good as it gets

There are certain things that you approach a Brian Wilson album expecting. Melody and harmony of course, but also a certain kind of approach: a fearlessness to experiment. When he finally completed the famously unfinished Smile in 2004, it was a landmark moment (though not, if we’re honest, as satisfying as the old demo versions). Then, while 2008’s That Lucky Old Sun was never going to be Pet Sounds, there was, at least, enough that was engaging about a man revisiting the sounds of his youth to be glad that he’d made it.

Sadly, the same can’t be said of No Pier Pressure, a largely collaborative project that is, in places, irredeemably bad. Not not good. Bad. Opener “This Beautiful Day” kicks things off with the promise of lush elegance, much like the closing songs on The Beach Boys’ 2012 cash grab That’s Why God Made the Radio, but then there’s the sucker punch of forthcoming single “Runaway Dancer”. It sounds like Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” reworked by Kenny G and David Guetta and is a song so bad it makes you temporarily hate all of sound. It colours everything that follows, some of which is probably OK but, to be honest, the death throes of kittens would sound good by comparison.

“Guess You Had To Be There” could be a half decent song in the hands of Sufjan Stevens rather than collaborator Joe Thomas, whose MOR tendencies are all over this LP like a disfiguring rash. There’s a hint of welcome familiarity at times – “Sail Away” sounds a bit like “Sloop John B” and “The Right Time” boasts some classic Wilson harmonies, but both suffer from the sort of production values normally reserved for karaoke bars and cheap restaurants. Album closer “The Last Song” ensures that the album is bookended by beauty, but it’s really too late to provide any kind of meaningful consolation.

It's a real shame. No Pier Pressure could well be Wilson’s last album, and you have to wonder why he imagined it would be a fitting tribute to his extraordinary talent. God only knows what he was thinking. 

"Runaway Dancer" sounds like Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” reworked by Kenny G and David Guetta

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Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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