NY Times Reviews "That Lucky Old Sun"
NY TIMES "Brian Wilson sings with boundless enthusiasm on 'That Lucky Old Sun,' his first full album of new songs since 2004. That was when he remade and completed 'Smile,' the attempted masterpiece he had abandoned amid drug use and mental illness in 1967. In 'Oxygen to the Brain' on the new album, he sings, 'I wasted a lot of years.'"
"Lately Mr. Wilson, 66, has overcome his stage fright and toured extensively, performing the complete 'Pet Sounds'and 'Smile' along with other hits he wrote for the Beach Boys. 'That Lucky Old Sun,' which was commissioned for a performance last year at the Royal Festival Hall in London, is a latter-day sequel to those two albums. It applies their elaborate structures and sounds to a concept: a day in the life of Los Angeles, from one dawn to the next."
"Los Angeles becomes the same sunny city Mr. Wilson defined with the Beach Boys in the mid-1960s, now tinged with regrets for lost time. 'Goin’ Home' declares, 'At 25 I turned out the light/’Cause I couldn’t handle the glare in my tired eyes/But now I’m back.'"
"Produced by Mr. Wilson, the music is packed, even overstuffed, with echoes of his Beach Boys marvels: chugging rhythms, creamy vocal harmonies, oom-mow-mow nonsense syllables and favorite instruments like bass harmonica, temple blocks, chimes and French horn. 'That Lucky Old Sun' is an uninterrupted suite of 17 tracks that lasts 38 minutes, barely longer than 'Pet Sounds.' Except for the title song, a pop standard by Haven Gillespie and Beasley Smith, Mr. Wilson wrote the album with his band’s keyboardist, Scott Bennett, and with Van Dyke Parks, who provided wordplay-laden lyrics for 'Heroes and Villains' and other 'Smile' songs. (Mr. Parks also wrote songs for Mr. Wilson to sing on 'Orange Crate Art,' a 1995 album that portrayed California with a wider historical sweep.)"
"The lyrics — and nutty spoken-word passages written by Mr. Parks — sketch a Los Angeles filled with lovers and dreamers, but they circle back to Mr. Wilson’s own story. In 'Midnight’s Another Day,' a spacious, swaying ballad about chronic depression, he sings, 'Swept away in a brainstorm/Chapters missing, pages torn' and climbs toward a choral revelation, 'All these people make me feel so alone.'"
"Mr. Wilson and his collaborators strive mightily to make 'That Lucky Old Sun' a new career landmark, and after the simplistic ditties that filled his previous solo albums, it’s a breakthrough. But too often the songs are patchworks of Mr. Wilson’s past glories, making references that are far too recognizable. For all its determined optimism 'That Lucky Old Sun' ends up as more an affirmation of Mr. Wilson’s legacy than an expansion of it."