Brian Wilson’s 11th solo studio album opens just as you’d hope a Brian Wilson album to open: with mournful piano chords, a muted trumpet, lush harmonies and Wilson singing about his desire to hold on to the feeling of a beautiful day.
One terrible misstep aside – Runaway Dancer, which sounds like Wilson trying to recreate house music as described to him by Alan Partridge – No Pier Pressure doesn’t bother trying to sound current, instead aiming to attract casual listeners with special guests, not all of whom complement Wilson: On the Island, with She & Him, turns out to be a slightly sickly piece of whimsy. The best collaborative tracks feature former Beach Boys – Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin pop up in varying combinations – but the best song closes the record.
The Last Song, originally earmarked for Lana Del Rey, sounds like Wilson is reflecting on his former group, and acknowledging that his career is at an end – “Don’t be sad / There was a time and place for what we had” – over a wonderful arrangement and a desperately sad melody. There are worse places to end a recording career, if that’s what The Last Song is trying to tell us.
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