Essentially a Brian Wilson solo record, Love You defies description, but I will try. It is unconventional in every sense of the word, though given Wilson’s state of mind during the 1970s this shouldn’t have been unexpected.
Wilson is a pop god; Pet Sounds and SMiLE have seen to that, as well as those countless ageless hits of the early 60s. While this record doesn’t come remotely close to rivaling Pet Sounds, it stands up much better when compared to the band's later work. This also basically was Brian Wilson’s most involved record in the period in between his solo career and the late 60s.
A study in absurdity; that’s how Wilson seemed to approach Love You. The lyrics are often just flat out weird and abstract. “Johnny Carson,” “Solar System” and “Love Is A Woman” all demonstrate that Wilson was never the greatest lyricist in the world, his childlike naivety to approaching these subjects is endearing, to a point.
The contributions from other member of The Beach Boys help elevate Love You in terms of quality. Brian Wilson’s vice at this point in time was decidedly not what it had been a few years prior. So, with brother Carl Wilson delivering killer lead vocals on tracks like “The Night Was So Young,” Brian gets to sit back and arrange, just like he used to in the good ol’ days.
Few would confuse the decade in which Love You was produced. The record reeks of the 1970s as synthesizers rule the proverbial roost. While Wilson’s production attempts to emulate the sonic layers of a “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” the overall effect is still lessened. Wilson’s best records pushed the boundaries of what was considered pop music; Love You remains content to stay at home with the kids.
This album was a grower, taking multiple listens before I could decide just what the hell it was I listened to. For a casual Beach Boys fan, Love You will undoubtedly confuse. Even the hardcore fan might reject Love You out of hand, given the overall quality of the group's 70s output. But dig deep enough, and there’s something there worth listening to.
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