Prior to this release, The Beach Boys were not exactly having a good time for a while. After the 1967 Smile sessions debacle, the group struggled to create some hits that were notable from this time. There were some difficulties arising from this, and to complicate matters, Brian Wilson’s mental health wasn’t the greatest during this time, particularly aggravated by illicit drug use. In any case, this is seen as a bit of a comeback album by the band and received some favourable reviews upon release and reached reasonable chart positions globally. The album cover is based on an early 20th sculpture and was painted specifically for this album. That says a lot. Could Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys still make good music at this point? Let’s find out, and hopefully, our expectations will be met. The album seemingly addresses social, political and cultural concerns lyrically, so it should be more intelligent than we’d expect.

Don’t Go Near The Water begins the album with some interesting piano and watery wah-wah guitar parts. This is okay and sounds quite decent. It’s good but lacks the positivity and magic of previous 1960s releases by The Beach Boys. The harmonies present are fantastic, mind you. A great listen regardless for what this is, and this has a chilled-out Californian/Floridian surfing vibe about it. There is a piano solo here before this tune kicks in with some sublime harmonies and beautiful instrumentation. Nice job, it sounds really sweet.

Long Promised Road begins with some piano and launches into a good Pop song that sounds really beautiful and melodic. This sounds like a slightly better direction than what The Beach Boys had been pursuing between this album and anything after the Smile sessions. A pleasant, pretty and awesome Pop/Rock tune with some equally pleasant singing, gorgeous instrumentation and some excellent singalong lyrics. There is a gorgeous keyboard solo near the middle of this song, and this whole thing sounds amazing and dramatic. An excellent listen, this is The Beach Boys singing a memorable and decent tune. Yes, you do need to hear this, likely for repeat listens. There is a keyboard and guitar solo on this song, which quickly returns to the chorus. A tune that still sounds resoundingly fresh to this day, this is a good song. Listen to it.

Take A Load Off Your Feet begins with some strummed acoustic guitars, some nicely edited vocals and some cool keyboards. This is even more spaced out and Psychedelic than some of the group’s works from 1966-1967 here. A pleasant listen, and even though this is not Pet Sounds, it certainly works nice and well. A pleasant tune to hear, this is something that the Hippies in California would have dug back in the day. Another great listen, this is awesome and artistic. A great, interesting and pleasant tune with some pleasant melodies, tripped out arrangements and colourful textures, this does sound amazing. Great to hear.

Disney Girls (1957) begins with tremolo plucked string melodies, piano and wah-wah sounds. Some beautiful singing enters, and this tune comes alive. A really fantastic and interesting listen, there is a load of romanticism in this tune. A really cool, fine and chilled tune about memories of youth, this is a pleasant and relaxing experience about childhood delights. This isn’t a million miles away from Syd Barrett’s music, and it also suits The Beach Boys here as well. A sweet set of harmonies enters in the second half and sounds really excellent. These eventually have a solo section of their own, before the song resumes nicely towards the end. A really awesome and pretty tune to listen to, this definitely lives up to the hype. An interesting song to hear, there is some whistling towards the end, with the harmonies fading out. Excellent.

Student Demonstration Time is appropriately named for the era of when this album was released, with the baby boomer generation of students protesting all over the USA against the Vietnam War. Some crunchy guitars and other Hard Rock styled sounds are present here, including sirens. A good tune that sounds like a good mixture of John Lennon styled singing and The Rolling Stones sort of sounds, the chorus chants: “There’s a riot going on, student demonstration time”. This is a good song, even if it sounds nothing at all like The Beach Boys. This also has a very 12 Bar Blues feel to it. A nice guitar solo is here, along with chugging pianos and the annoying sirens. This also documents a riot at a University, and The Beach Boys comment on the stupidity of youth beginning riots, despite the fact they agree with the protestors. This definitely isn’t the greatest song on this record, but it works quite well anyway. An interesting tune, worth listening to, if you can deal with the annoying siren sounds.

Feel Flows begins with some interesting keyboard sounds and some clever studio trickery on the vocals. This is a gorgeous tune that sounds very Psychedelic and it is really interesting to listen to. An awesome and interesting piece of artistic music, The Beach Boys were their best at their Classical Pop artistic side. Despite the fact that this album is an improvement on the previous few, its appeal wears thin a bit by this point and it quite clearly is no Pet Sounds. Still, there are some nice and varied musical instruments throughout. The multitude of flutes, saxophone, keyboards and guitar here are extremely Psychedelic. The second half has no vocals for a bit, just a tremendous amount of studio and audio trickery. This is likely drug-influenced, and goes on for quite a while, possibly longer than it should. Nonetheless, this works well, despite the length. A good listen from start to finish, and this takes us back in time to 1971. Again, it’s good.

Lookin’ At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song) is fortunately much shorter in length as a song. Some vocals are here about living a life on the welfare system. A bit odd musically to be honest. There is some great acoustic guitar and processed vocals that sound really excellent on this tune. It’s a weird and interesting listen, with a touch of Eastern melodies about it. Some ba-ba-ba harmonies are here and this is a relaxing and fresh listen throughout. Short, it runs just under two minutes before fading out.

A Day In The Life Of A Tree begins with some majestic organs, some Eastern influenced vocals and there is some singing which honestly, isn’t the best. It is also fairly depressing to listen to, and the music here is like being hit over the head with a sharp object. Some very late 1960s styled keyboard enters, and this tune is quite an interesting listen. It clearly isn’t the best song on the album, and although the singing on this tune is quite good, this is a good example of a song that The Beach Boys could make which is interesting but not really that good. A depressing song and it ends after three minutes. Not really impressive, this could have been bettered. A bit naff, to be honest.

‘Til I Die begins with some keyboards galore and some good vocals by The Beach Boys. The question is asked: “How deep is the ocean?” This song is a small improvement on the previous song, and the music and playing here are a bit better here. Still, this is lacking energy and spirit for such an album of this sort. Quite frankly, The Beach Boys could have done a lot better than this. The singing is really marvellous, despite all that, and the harmonies are one of the best listens on this album. It’s okay but only okay. Fairly repetitive as well.

Surf’s Up is the final song on this album. It launches into quite a good song here, and it is breathtaking and beautiful. A great song is here, and it does justice for the listener, especially after the earlier songs which were hit-and-miss. Still, this has some great sounds and sound effects throughout. A pleasant, melodic and interesting song to listen to, this has some interesting sounds, such as keyboards, piano and various clanging sounds. There is a sectional change around the middle of the song here, with just piano and vocals to go. There is some great suspense in this tune, and it moves freely and nicely tempo-wise. A really passionate, pretty and gorgeous tune, it leads back into the later released Child Is The Father Of Man song. This is very cool. A good finish to an album that is okay, but quite frankly needed to be better than this.

Despite the fact that this album was seen as a bit of a comeback album, it isn’t as good as one would think. The music here is fairly dreary and lacking inspiration, for the most part. It also lacks the certain sort of magic that one would experience from this sort of music, especially as something that was so well received at the time. Therefore, this is not a good comeback album from the group, and you’d be better off checking out Pet Sounds or the 2011 release of The Smile Sessions. It’s good but just not good enough.

A depressing disappointment that lacks magic.