Brian Wilson throws it back with new album

Chris Duncan

After the Beach Boys cut their reunion tour short in 2012, band member Brian Wilson resumed his solo career. Wilson has proved his dedication to his sound over his past 10 albums, and the 11th supports that. No Pier Pressure, released April 7, provides the same harmonies and nostalgia you’d expect from a Brian Wilson project, but poor production decisions and lackluster features bring down the album.

The record opens with smooth piano chords, calming trumpets and Wilson’s classic theme of a beautiful day, making it clear that nothing revolutionary occurs on this project. No Pier Pressure sticks to Wilson’s roots in classic pop ballads instead of forming a more modern sound. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as the album displays Wilson’s songwriting skills in full.

“Sail Away” features some of the best lyrics of the album, with Wilson singing “One captain’s paradise for two, Stay in a sea that’s twice as blue, It all waits for me and you when my ship comes in.” The Beach Boys-esque style of this track maintains Wilson’s style.

The features of the album attempt to bring in some fresh material to help counteract Wilson’s older style. With such names as Nate Ruess of Fun. and Sebu Simonian from Capital Cities, Wilson takes an assist anywhere he can.

Some features flop, specifically Simonian’s feature on “Runaway Dancer,” which feels horribly out of place with its heavy electronic beats. “Guess You Had To Be There” featuring Kacey Musgraves feels far too bubbly, even for a Wilson song.    

Out of all of the features, Wilson’s work with current and former members of the Beach Boys finds the most success. Although they might fight as a band, members of the Beach Boys manage to find common ground on other projects.

The harmonies produced by Blondie Chaplin, Al Jardine and David Marks carry the record. Their reflective views on their fading careers would tug at the heart strings of any man above the age of 55.    

Generally, albums do not associate with their producers, but No Pier Pressure’s co-producer Joe Thomas stands out on this project. Sadly, it’s for all the wrong reasons.

Thomas’ musical expertise is with mainstream projects. His extensive use of auto-tune brings down a lot of moments that could have otherwise been memorable. “Our Special Love” is one of many tracks in which a more pure-sounding tone would have created a more emotional and relatable track. Thomas’ production results in odd moments that don’t work well with Wilson’s style.

After listening to No Pier Pressure a few times, there was no reason to listen again. Compared to Wilson’s career, this record is nowhere near as innovative as other projects. The majority of the songs sound the same, but Wilson’s name on the cover will drive sales.

Wilson didn’t create this album to jump-start his career again; he created it for people who fondly remember when Pet Sounds dominated the radio. The average listener won’t find this album appealing, but it’s going to make a perfect gift for Father’s Day.

Album: No Pier Pressure

Artist: Brian Wilson

Tracks: 13

Rating: 5/10