The Beach Boys Do It Again With That’s Why God Made The Radio
The biggest reunion of the year thus far has undoubtedly been the fusion of the remaining members of the Beach Boys’ classic lineup – Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, and Bruce Johnston. The group, who is currently in the midst of a yearlong 50th Anniversary celebration that includes a major North American tour, released their 29thstudio record on June 5th, That’s Why God Made The Radio.
A pleasing listen that evolved as the record progressed, the backstory of That’s Why God Made The Radio is an album that is filled with many “first time since” references. The album is the first Beach Boys record to include original contributions from Brian Wilson since 1992’s Summer In Paradise. Founding member David Marks also returns to the group for the first time since 1963’s Little Deuce Coup LP, the last of a remarkable three albums to be released that year.
Perhaps keeping that passage of time in mind, That’s Why God Made The Radio seems to have a reflective nature, which is first alluded to in the song “Isn’t it Time:”
“After it’s all been said/the music spinning in our head/Can’t forget the feeling of/the magic of that summer love/Oh I wanna take you there/Do you wanna turn back the pages/memories and photographs.”
Aside from the first single, “That’s Why God Made The Radio,” the first half of the record is solid, though unspectacular, Beach Boys music complete with their seemingly unaged harmonies. It is the album’s second half which brings out the artistic side that defined the band’s Pet Sounds era and planted them firmly in the musical pantheon. The last four songs, “Strange World,” “From There to Back Again,” “Pacific Coast Highway,” and “Summer’s Gone” blend together as a masterful Brian Wilson-helmed suite where the beauty of the band’s sound and imagery returns to their music in a manner that borders on musical perfection.
Co-written by Brian Wilson, Soundstage founder Joe Thomas, and Jon Bon Jovi, “Summer’s Gone” proves to be a haunting way to wrap up any Beach Boys album. The band, who has always managed to exist in a place of eternal sunshine, beaches, and a double-dose of bikini-clad California surfer girls, seems to have found an appropriate finishing touch. Whether this was meant to be merely an end of an album or an understated way to bring closure to the band’s tenure together, the lyrics of “Summer’s Gone” are a bit foreboding: “Summer’s gone/I’m gonna sit and watch the waves/we laugh, we cry/we live then die/and dream about our yesterday.”
Hopefully, the band continues to tour and record as a group and That’s Why God Made The Radio is a first of a handful of albums over the next few years. But if the record’s climatic suite means anything, the band has chosen a fitting way to turn the calendar pages to autumn after spending a life under the summer sun: crafting art that makes the world seem like a more beautiful place to be.