Brian Wilson, "No Pier Pressure" (Capitol)
There's a gauzy, soft-focus sound to Wilson's new solo album, as if the album begins fading into memory the moment it's heard. Much of that atmosphere comes from the songs, which savor the plush chords and tiered vocal harmonies that Wilson introduced to rock in the Beach Boys' 1960s hits. Now his music is also inevitably tied to a generation's nostalgia, and to his own long career. Wilson doesn't conceal the weariness in his voice when he sings. Fleeting joys, longing for the past, lingering regrets and a struggle for optimism fill the album. Wilson, 72, and Joe Thomas, his frequent collaborator since 1998, juggle past and present in strangely proportioned ways. One strategy is to have Wilson share the lead vocals. Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, from the Beach Boys, join him in some songs, as do younger, currently popular guests, including Nate Ruess from Fun., Zooey Deschanel and Kacey Musgraves. But "No Pier Pressure" is resolutely un-contemporary.
jon pareles, New York Times
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