The Beach Boys - That’s Why God Made The Radio

A far more fitting end to the story than ‘Stars And Stripes Volume 1’ ever would have been.

Label: EMI

Rating: 7

If there must be a new Beach Boys album, and the very existence of this record suggests that someone with scant regard for screwing up a legacy has decreed that there must, then there are few rules that must be adhered to. Songs must include references to the following subject matter: girls, cars, beaches, and surfing – not necessarily in that order. Harmonies must be tight. Brian Wilson, and clearly we’re mentioning this for the benefit of Mike Love, Brian has to be involved, or that’s not the Beach Boys (at least, that’s how I justified Kokomo, I don’t know about you). At the very least, that memo appears to have been passed around all involved with ‘That’s Why God Made The Radio’, because it is filled to the brim with all the prerequisite themes.

But here’s the thing; if, as we’re led to believe in ‘Spring Vacation’, these guys really are ‘cruisin’ the town, diggin’ the scene’, we ought to be a little concerned that they’ll get lynched by angry mobs yelling “pedobear!” should they be checking out the California girls on the sidewalk. After all, they’re not the really The Beach Boys anymore (and some may argue that without Dennis or Carl, they really aren’t The Beach Boys at all), more likely they’re the Beach Granddads.

If we’re honest, the first half of the album, title track aside, is slightly cringeworthy, both in terms of music and the production. But the whole record is redeemed, beautifully, by the last three tracks. Admittedly, ‘From There To Back Again’ is no ‘God Only Knows’ (the greatest song ever written, fact fans), but it is pretty darn exquisite, dripping with pathos, building fitfully with beautiful harmonies. And the outro of ‘Summer’s Gone’, the simple sound of waves, crashing over the shore, has the effect of reducing this particular listener to soft tears.

We were never going to get another ‘Pet Sounds’ or ‘Smile’, and anyone labouring under that misconception was always destined to be hugely disappointed. But, whilst this might not be what God actually made the radio for, if this record turns out to actually be their swansong, then it’s a far more fitting end to the story than ‘Stars And Stripes Volume 1’ ever would have been.