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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys

1966

Pet Sounds

Album Summary

Pet Sounds is the 11th studio album by the American rock band the Beach Boys, released on May 16, 1966 by Capitol Records. It was initially met with a lukewarm critical and commercial response in the United States, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. In the United Kingdom, the album was lauded by critics and reached number 2 on the Record Retailer chart, remaining in the top ten for six months. Promoted there as "the most progressive pop album ever", Pet Sounds garnered recognition for its ambitious production, sophisticated music, and emotional lyrical content. It is considered to be among the greatest and most influential albums in music history.The album was produced, arranged, and almost entirely composed by Brian Wilson with guest lyricist Tony Asher. It was recorded largely between January and April 1966, a year after Wilson quit touring with his bandmates. His goal was to create "the greatest rock album ever made"—a cohesive work with no filler tracks. It is sometimes considered a Wilson solo album that builds upon the advancements of The Beach Boys Today! (1965). Lead single "Caroline, No" was issued as his official solo debut. It was followed by two singles credited to the group: "Sloop John B" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" (backed with "God Only Knows"). Incorporating elements of pop, jazz, exotica, classical, and the avant-garde, Wilson's Wall of Sound-based orchestrations mixed conventional rock set-ups with elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, found sounds, and instruments never before associated with rock, such as bicycle bells, French horn, flutes, Electro-Theremin, string sections, and beverage cans. The album could not be reproduced live and was the first time that any group departed from their usual small-ensemble electric rock band format for a whole LP. An early concept album, it consists mainly of introspective songs like "I Know There's an Answer", a critique of LSD users; and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times", the first use of a theremin-like instrument on a rock record. The album's unprecedented total production cost exceeded $70,000 (equivalent to $580,000 in 2021). An expanded reissue, The Pet Sounds Sessions, was released in 1997 with isolated vocals and instrumental versions, session highlights, and the album's first true stereo mix. Pet Sounds revolutionized the field of music production and the role of producers within the music industry, introduced novel approaches to orchestration, chord voicings, and structural harmonies, and furthered the cultural legitimization of popular music, a greater public appreciation for albums, the use of synthesizers, the recording studio as an instrument, and the development of psychedelic music and progressive/art rock. It has topped several critics' and musicians' polls for the best album of all time, including those published by NME, Mojo, Uncut, and The Times. In 2004, it was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. It has been certified platinum by the RIAA, indicating over one million units sold.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.88

Votes

6205

Genres

  • Pop
  • Rock
  • Psychedelic Rock
Reviews
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Thu Mar 11 2021
2

wouldn't it be nice to fuck off

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Mon Feb 22 2021
5

Imagine making this masterpiece and later having people scream “Kokomo!” at you at every single show you play for forty years straight until you die, when you then have people scream “Kokomo!” at you in the afterlife for all eternity. Sometimes I get very sad.

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Fri Feb 26 2021
5

I hear (and see) Pet Sounds as a pure Masterpiece. It is my belief that it has some of the best music the band ever created...lovely, catchy, and experimental. The Beach Boys were in major transition and Brian Wilson was insisting on pushing the envelope in writing and instrumentation. Some of the sounds on the record are quite raw and wild, and while the rest of the band wasn't feeling it, Wilson's mental health imbalances and his creative genius combined were strong contributors to making sure this piece of art was recorded as it was. I am so grateful that I was able to take my mom to Milwaukee to see Brian Wilson and his band (including original member, Al Jardine) perform Pet Sounds in its entirety a few years back. We were overjoyed. We were choked up often. The album live was gorgeous! The second half of the show was a long line of Beach Boys hits written by Brian. We sang along and smiled at each other often. I'll never forget it. Only a few years prior, I witnessed the entire band perform at Bonnaroo. The crowd was nuts and hundreds of massive beach balls were flying overhead. This was a time that the ego of Mike Love and mental health of Brian Wilson were able to merge for a reunion tour. Wouldn't It Be Nice to experience a music festival again and the Beach Boys again soon! **important to note that Love & Mercy with Paul Dano & John Cusack (each taking on two stages of Wilson's life) is a stellar representation of the highs & lows of the Beach Boys and Wilson.

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Sun Jan 24 2021
2

I first listened to this album a few years ago, and remember not liking it. When this album came up on this list, as I knew it would, I hoped that with my expectations lowered it would be an improvement for me. It wasn’t. The album was full of midtempo tracks that were neither particularly rocking or particularly chill. I don’t like Brian Wilson’s voice when he sings with more drawn out notes. The reputation of this album proceeded it, but it just wasn’t for me. My personal enjoyment: 1.5/5 Did it belong on this list: 5/5

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Wed Oct 07 2020
5

Out of over a thousand possiblities I get an album I've already listened to, hahah Pet Sounds is great but I slightly prefer The Beach Boys Today Post-listen again: OK PET SOUNDS IS A FUCKING MASTERPIECE I TAKE IT BACK

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Fri Feb 12 2021
5

One of the most exquisitely beautiful albums you could ever hope to hear. Also a very brave and heartfelt album, leaping head first into uncharted territory beyond genres. Nothing else sounds like this. In my ideal alternate universe this would have caught on more commercially and the Beach Boys would have continued more in this vein. I absolutely adore Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. This was one of the first CDs I ever owned. I drove down to Iowa to see him perform the album in it's entirety in 2017 and hearing God Only Knows in person was one of the most powerful musical experiences of my life. I always come back to this one and I always will. Transcendent. Hors categorie.

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Fri Aug 27 2021
5

I studied this album as part of my college degree, it's that big of a deal. Even so, I wasn't prepared to give it a 5 start review. But, as I listened, I realized that this really is a milestone album in the history of recording. So many of these songs are OBJECTIVELY great songwriting and (despite Brian Wilson's penchant for lazy fade-out endings) the production really is astounding. Wilson truly was a mad genius and his capacity for brilliance is on full display here.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
4

I have mixed feelings about this album. Every time I have listened to it before was after reading a review that made me think I was gonna see god after listening to this. So this time I went in thinking I was going to hate it like I had every other time. It was actually pretty good, instrumentation was layered and interesting though the vocals still feel trapped in 1950s shtick. Overall I think this album is more historically significant as one of the first concept albums than some sort of sonic masterpiece.

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Sat Apr 17 2021
5

Technically, this might be the best pop record ever made. An absolute masterpiece that is completely enjoyable on multiple levels.

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Mon Feb 15 2021
5

It is impossible to rate this album below perfection. This is arguably the best album of all time in rock and roll history. It as yet to be bettered today, decades later. It achieved more with less given limited yet innovative technologies at the time. Must be listened to start to finish.

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

Perfect harmonies, lush production, and super complex layers, still sounding relevant and contemporary

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Thu Jan 21 2021
3

Couldn't hear any pets but some good songs otherwise

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Fri Jul 01 2022
3

sweaty. hellish. hate the harmonies. feel like i took too many painkillers

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Mon Feb 22 2021
2

I may be committing a spot of heresy here but this is...a bit shit? The songs tend to drag, the production and orchestration feel creaky and I really struggle with the drippy, lugubrious vocals. I am to understand that this is an enduring work of genius, but one or two tracks aside I'm not getting any juice out of this lemon. The soupy sounds of a bunch of wet lads, criminally overrated all told.

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Wed May 11 2022
1

Fucking nightmare. Too much sound. Everytime I start to like it someone goes 'oooohhh woooooo' and then a horn starts honking

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Mon Jul 25 2022
1

i want a reason to live and this site isn’t helping

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Fri Nov 13 2020
5

9.7/10

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Mon Mar 08 2021
5

A departure from everything I thought the Beach Boys were. This is neither beach music or boys music. It is a combination of pop/jazz with a ton of orchestral music woven in. It showcases why Brian Wilson is considered to be one of the greatest songwriters in history. The music couldn't be more solid. Each of the songs instrumentals is carefully crafted and even some of the odder sounds feel like they fully belong. The lyrics are more mature and even though experimental it still has a fantastic flow and rhythm to it. I never thought I would love a beach boys album as much as I did this one and I feel a little upset at myself having obviously never given them a fair listen. The only issue I have with this album is the songs are too short, I always wanted more and with this the fade outs(while the singing was still going on) were not to mu liking. But the harmony of this album far out weighs and gripes I may have.

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View Author
Fri Mar 11 2022
5

Genre: Baroque Pop 5/5 Ah, Pet Sounds. One of those truly ubiquitous albums that continues to stand the test of time. It's a true pop masterpiece, an album where each song has the tender love and care that most producers and songwriters at the time would put towards just one or two singles. Along with the efforts of The Beatles, The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds is another example of how radically music was changing and growing at the time, and how the competition didn't come from the record companies (though they profited mightily), but from the songwriters themselves. Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney were trading pop masterpieces like boxers trade uppercuts. Pet Sounds, however, certainly does sound and feel its age. It's truly all so classic, from Wouldn't It Be Nice to God Only Knows to every beautiful nugget in between, but I'm sure this album does little to the impatient listener nowadays. The Wall-of-Sound style reverb, and the classical and baroque influences throughout I'm sure turn off some younger listeners nowadays, and the mystique of this album may die with the times. But Brian Wilson here is methodically walking us through his feelings garden, and it's quite the emotional journey, with each track leaving an impression throughout the length of the album. Sloop John B, Don't Talk, That's Not Me, they're all here and they're all songs that would be other band's best song ever. I think even if this album doesn't hit you as hard as it hits others, which isn't usually the case, it still serves as a monolith of the times. A pop project that set the bar quite high for the rest of time.

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Tue May 24 2022
5

The most celebrated album ever? Pet Sounds has cemented itself to the top ten of countless lists concerning the greatest albums ever, although curiously it's absent from this site's top 15. Anyway, such a position should neither extol nor sully the album in the ears of the listener, as the predictability of such lists indicates how meaningless they are. For instance, Citizen Kane has its reservation at the toppermost of film polls, and the first-time viewer usually concludes that it's actually, properly, seriously good, but the same lists that hold Pet Sounds aloft usually have the ridiculous phenomenon of 4 Beatles albums in the top ten albums of all time (I have recently concluded that the Beatles were primarily a singles band, and none of their albums display the Fabs at their fabbest). Happily, Pet Sounds falls into the Citizen Kane category. This is not to say that I consider Pet Sounds the GOAT; I don't. But I can't deny this album's magnificence. The genesis of Pet Sounds has been exhaustively documented: the Beach Boys began as the means for the autocratic, abusive minor songwriter Murry Wilson to attain stardom vicariously through a singing troop comprising his sons and nephews. However, one of those sons was the sensitive musical prodigy Brian Wilson, who broke from Murry to craft a more personal, emotional pop music inspired more by Phil Spector's Wall of Sound than the goodtime surf-music stipulated by the formula Murry conceived (then championed by everyone's one-despised Beach Boy Mike Love). With the British Invasion, and specifically Rubber Soul, Brian Wilson felt an overriding, and ultimately unhealthy, ambition to surpass the Beatles' sonic achievements (with hindsight, is Rubber Soul actually that good? Isn't it just an average, acceptable collection of songs? But then, do I know more about music than Brian Wilson?) One oddity of Pet Sounds is that it was released in 1966, during a time when the hippy movement was becoming established. Indeed, nascent psychedelic rockers such as the Doors, Love and Jefferson Airplane took Rubber Soul as a thrown-down gauntlet to reconnoitre into the beyond. Pet Sounds has none of this, focusing on producing the most impeccable soundscape. Along with this, Pet Sounds doesn't seek to investigate the more R-rated themes that had begun to interest rock. Rather, Pet Sounds is adolescent, almost childlike in its innocence and honesty. The opener, Wouldn't It Be Nice, is an almost-chaste yearning for the fireworks of romance the young assume are permanent with true love (maturity bestows the not-always-welcome realisation that romance and love are far more complicated, but the desire for love so intense never leaves you regardless of age). I Know There's An Answer (inspired by Brian's first experience with LSD) manifests that teenage sense of having everything figured out and nothing figured out, of recognising the phonies and not knowing whether to hug them or run away with a deafmute girl (baseball cap-clad douchebag Mike Love objected that the song was immoral to his square sensibilities, then later sued Brian for a songwriting credit). I could go through almost every song dissecting its guileless charm, but let's change focus to the flow of the album. It starts off exuberantly, and the first half maintains this joy, yet side 2 is far bleaker, far more introspective and self-doubting. Of course, this is still firmly adolescent, and instead of souring the album elevates it, articulating the alienation and despair that period of one's life attends. The album ends with Caroline, No, a heartbreaking song about heartbreak and the end of love, and the ideal counterpoint to Wouldn't It Be Nice. This is not to say that Pet Sounds is in any way a concept album, but it has a remarkable thematic coherence, a coherence that justifies its status as a masterpiece. Pet Sounds probably isn't perfect. God Only Knows suffers from its ubiquity, which is hardly Brian Wilson's fault. But tweezering out the minor faults of Pet Sounds would be fussiness, not diagnosis. The most valid criticisms one can make of Pet Sounds are the name and cover. According to Brian's first memoir, the title stems from somehow-more-villainous-than-Charles-Manson Mike Love damning the album, saying, "Who's gonna hear this shit? The ears of a dog?" Mike Love denies saying this (and sued him), but are there any circumstances where you want to believe Mike Love?

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Thu Feb 04 2021
1

The album is Brian Wilson in a nutshell: Disconnected and contained all at once; Insecure lyrics, mature music; Ambitious and more than a little bonkers.

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Fri Sep 24 2021
1

I've never really liked The Beach Boys. This album is very typical of their music, so naturally I dislike it. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is the most recognizable tune on it, and all I could think was "Wouldn't it be nice if no Beach Boys albums were on this list?" 1 star.

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Sat Mar 27 2021
5

One of the most praised albums of all time. The Beach Boys have never been and never will be my favorite, but this is a great album, end of story. Best track: God Only Knows

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Thu Nov 05 2020
5

CLASSIC AF, and really brings out the psychedelic side of the Beach Boys, which of often overlooked for the more beachy tunes. And the hits are always fun to hear again.

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Fri Nov 13 2020
5

What an incredible album. From wouldn’t it be nice to Caroline no, you will be entrenched in the heavenly harmonies. I’ve noticed with this listen the “story” of this album, where from wouldn’t it be nice is a simple song of young love. This concept is introduced there and is expanded upon in the first side. By sloop John b, the relationship is more fragile and not as tight, perhaps because of the age of the characters. God only knows continues this. Listening to the song on its own appears to be a love song asserting ones love. In the concept of the album it is the first song where the love falls apart. God only knows goes from certainty of love to uncertainty based on context. Throughout the second side, the protagonist deals with the love failing and a breakup. Specifically here today exhibits the ex lover finding a new partner. I just wasn’t made for these times is a depressive state following that. The title track “pet sounds” is an instrumental break that lets us breath in from the journey so far. Finally Caroline no, shows us what happens when the two lovers reconnect and the spark can’t be reignited, concluding with the sound of a train and a dog barking. I don’t understand the albums final notes of train and dogs. But I ADIRE THIS ALBUM. It truly is one of the greatest of all time.

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View Author
Fri Dec 04 2020
5

9

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

Fun, creative lyrics that will always make you feel 19 again. Great weekend or car trip listen.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Some outstanding tracks. God Only Knows, wouldn’t it be Nice, Sloop John B. Top 10 best album of all time in my opinion.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

I've listened to this album many, many times over my lifetime because it's my dad's favorite. And for good reason.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

Great album — love The Beach Boys and this album is what sparked the new-age indie/alt.

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Thu Feb 04 2021
5

One of the greatest albums of all time.

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Fri Jan 29 2021
5

Excellent

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

C’mon you think I haven’t heard this shit before? It’s one of the best albums ever! I’ll listen to it again though I guess

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Sun Jan 17 2021
5

Classic

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

A classic

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

wouldn't it be nice is a classic. one of those songs that never fails to lift your spirits. that's not me is so nice i never really listened to it. this album is so joyful. my heart is floating.

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Mon Apr 26 2021
5

Okay, I’m really excited about this one because I really like the Beach Boys! And I already know some of these songs. And it didn’t disappoint. Some of the songs weren’t as good as others, but it was pretty good as a whole.

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Fri Jan 15 2021
5

Thank you, Brian Wilson.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
5

Trop bon!

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Thu Feb 25 2021
5

This is one of my all time favorite albums. I love it.

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Sat Jan 16 2021
5

good as always

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Mon Feb 22 2021
5

Possibly the best album ever made

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

Great, I LOVE all songs

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Fri Jan 29 2021
5

This is a great album that I already know before. It has some of the most important songs in the whole world. Impossible to give it less than 5 stars

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Wed Mar 03 2021
5

One of the best albums ever.

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Sun May 02 2021
5

A masterpiece

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Tue Jul 20 2021
5

An all-time classic I'd never listened to before. It lived up to it's billing - a beautiful, tender and melancholic record, and quite far removed from the Beach Boy's west coast pop (which is also great). Both sides start and finish with classics and the songs in between help this album to read very much of a consistent piece. A pretty much perfect record. 5/5.

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Tue Jul 20 2021
5

The GOAT

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Thu Jan 28 2021
5

Una maravilla.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
5

Lovely, one of, if not the greatest pop albums ever. Deep, rich recording. Love the horns and diverse sounds across this album

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Mon Jun 14 2021
5

Love listening to this album. God Only knows brings back a lot of nostalgic memories for me.

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Sat Feb 13 2021
5

already listened

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Sat Mar 06 2021
5

Interesting to listen to the full album. Sad, haunting, beautiful. Clear influences to Wilco & some Pink Floyd 40-50 years earlier.

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Thu Apr 22 2021
5

sonic bliss!

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Mon Mar 01 2021
5

Classic

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Fri Apr 16 2021
5

Eins der goat Alben

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Fri Mar 26 2021
5

The Beach Boys' finest effort and one of the greatest albums of all time. 9.4/10 Best Tracks: "Wouldn't It Be Nice" "I'm Waiting for the Day" "Sloop John B" "God Only Knows"

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Thu May 06 2021
5

Classic songs that flow together for a great listen

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Thu May 20 2021
5

I mean, come on. So good

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Sun May 16 2021
5

Already in the mix

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Mon May 17 2021
5

One of the best albums. There's little better than the Beach Boys at their best, and this album is definitely a great one.

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Sun May 16 2021
5

Always been a favorite. Every time I listen to it I find something new to love.

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Wed Jun 23 2021
5

God Only Knows

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Thu May 27 2021
5

A great classic.

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Mon Jun 21 2021
5

Talented voices and some interesting drums.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
5

It's been said before, but.... Genius!

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Tue Aug 17 2021
5

So good!

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Mon Aug 30 2021
5

Superb classic album.

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Wed Sep 08 2021
5

Obviously Beach Boys best. A musical inspiration for that period. Variety, a great album. Brian Wilson a genius.

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Tue Sep 14 2021
5

I listened practically on repeat the entire day. Love it.

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Tue Sep 14 2021
5

I had always heard how "genius" this album was so I was going in with high expectations. This was not at all what I was expecting, but in a great way. I have heard the greatest hits of TBBs countless times as a kid and have seen them live a long time ago, but this was so far from that sound. Surf rock, pop, and an orchestra so amazingly mixed together. Makes me think a bit of Metallica's S&M somewhat. Great album. Needs a couple relistens

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Sun Sep 26 2021
5

A true classic. The harmonies, Wilson is a genius. Nothing more to be said.

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

WOW. I love this album. I'd put this in my Top 5 all time for sure. Stunningly beautiful melodies, soaring rich harmonies, insane instrumentation, and poetic lyrics. A classic.

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

Them harmonies. The brilliant studio work. Very pure

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Tue Oct 12 2021
5

Need I say more? One of the most important albums of the 60s indeed of the rock era. 5 stars

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Thu Oct 21 2021
5

I mean...it's Pet Sounds. Not much to say really. Brian Wilson is a genius. This album is brilliant. You probably already knew that.

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Tue Nov 09 2021
5

Poppy, moody, fun, dense. A great album.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

Legendary

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

Need no introduction to this one. My all time favorite. There are goats on the front because it is the GOAT. Brian Wilson did something unprecedented with this album, and few have been able to imitate the results he achieved here.

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

Still mesmerising, seminal, the start of many wonderful things.

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Sun Nov 14 2021
5

nice

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

Absolutely amazing album. The father indie albums. Beautiful lyricism and vocals that make me feel them. Super soothing and fun.

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Wed Nov 24 2021
5

Perfection. Soo good.

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

A great piece of work

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

Engir Bítlar, en þetta er samt æðisleg plata.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

First listened to this years ago and never quite got it. Revisited recently and it's probably an all time top 5 album. Best tracks 1. I'm Waiting For The Day 2. God Only Knows 3. I Know There's An Answer Wouldn't It Be Nice 10/10 You Still Believe In Me 10/10 That's Not Me 10/10 Don't Talk 9/10 I'm Waiting For The Day 11/10 Let's Go Away 10/10 Sloop John B 10/10 God Only Knows 11/10 I know There's 10/10 Here Today 10/10 I Just Wasn't Made 10/10 Pet Sounds 9/10 Carolone No 10/10

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Wed Dec 01 2021
5

Questlove had it right. This thing transcended music. It’s like Brian Wilson had a secret time machine.

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Mon Dec 06 2021
5

Concept album

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Mon Dec 06 2021
5

5/5

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Wed Dec 08 2021
5

what an album! listened to it years back as it comes up on loads of "best album ever" rankings but didn't really get the fuss, glad this came up for another round today as I loved it

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Fri Dec 10 2021
5

Who knew the surf pop dudes could write an album of such exquisite beauty? Pet Sounds is one of the greatest works of art of the twentieth century. Fragile, delicate, poetic, with perfect arrangements and haunting tunes, this album stands alongside the compositions and musical innovations of The Beatles. A transformative album, to take you from where you are to another place and time. The delicate beauty of God Only Knows is a fine love / love lorn song and tracks like Wouldn’t It Be Nice and Sloop John B have a playful enjoyable energy to them. A five star classic and an album which will be remembered and revere in centuries to come.

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Fri Dec 17 2021
5

I mean Pets Sounds is one of the greatest albums of time...did as much or more to change music than the Beatles accomplished at the same time

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Sun Dec 19 2021
5

A great pop album here. Always feels like it goes by really quick. The songs are enjoyable but also aren’t just poppy nonsense. The Beach Boys best album without a doubt. 9.3/10

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Wed Dec 22 2021
5

Went for the stereo version. So many good songs it's hard to pick a highlight. Beautiful, genre-bending music that was way ahead of its time but also nostalgic.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

This is not an easy album to love. The melodies are not standard pop fare, they are complex and the hooks are while their are present but require repeated listens to make their way into your brain. This is not Sgt. Pepper, with its easily hummable melodies and easy hooks. It's a great album but it requires time before it's greatness is revealed. It did at least for me. 5 🌟

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Fri Dec 24 2021
5

I mean really

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Fri Dec 24 2021
5

Near perfect album.

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Fri Dec 24 2021
5

One of the best albums of its era

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Sun Jan 02 2022
5

Wonderful way to start.

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Fri Jan 07 2022
5

Great album. First time playing all the way through. Perfect for a cold Winter work morning.

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