Brian Wilson Arthur Schmidt - Essay

Arthur Schmidt

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Beach Boys have tried faithfully to render who and what they are. That what they are is in some ways a simply (existential but) foolish denial of reality, that Hawthorne is not the world that Watts is, is nothing other than the fact that art, like human action, when it impersonally duplicates reality, is more schizophrenia.

The group takes risks, however. After Pet Sounds, the only flaw of which was its indulgence in a sometimes over-lush sound, they cleaned up and came out with Smiley Smile, so controlled, precise and tight that it risked (and at times lost to) sterility. "Wild Honey" bet on keeping tight and somehow simultaneously releasing everything they had in a sustained emotional burst. The bet paid off. Friends is a transition…. Occasionally lapsing into the style of Pet Sounds (as on "Diamond Head," which is not as good as anything on that earlier LP), they more often mix the dry, silly-but-witty (like a fatigue high) style of Smiley Smile with the harder-driving, less still, more emotional feel of Wild Honey.

The best cuts are "Meant For You," the dedication: "Friends," a more mature (in that it lacks their usual immediacy) evocation of the surfer "pack" or "club" vision—why go out with a girl when you can go cruising with the guys on Saturday nights? It's really warm, simple, touching, saying in not so many words that friendship isn't about words. Other...

(The entire section is 503 words.)