Brian Bowen-Smith
Kyle Anderson
April 03, 2015 AT 04:11 PM EDT

No Pier Pressure

Current Status
In Season
release date
Brian Wilson
music label

We gave it an B

The title of Brian Wilson’s 11th solo studio album, No Pier Pressure, is the kind of eye-roll-worthy pun your dad would drop at a barbecue. Wilson gets a pass, though—partly because he’s a musical icon (both on his own and with the Beach Boys) who helped reinvent the idea of how pop music could be constructed, and partly because he’s 72 years old. There’s a fundamental corniness running through Pressure, from its glossy soft-rock sheen to its borderline-anodyne lyrics about seaside love. But Wilson sells it pretty well, aided by his legendary knack for effervescent melodies and the presence of dynamic young guests, including Nate Ruess, She & Him, and Kacey Musgraves. Beach Boy pals Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin show up too, on songs that focus largely on the harmonizing that made them famous. (Those songs are perfectly lovely, though something like “Sail Away” could have easily been shelved in 1963.)

It’s the dalliances outside Wilson’s comfort zone that elevate Pressure, especially the twangy Musgraves-assisted story-song “Guess You Had to Be There” and the twisty roller jam “Runaway Dancer.” At this point, Wilson will never top Pet Sounds or “I Get Around.” Still, even if his latest doesn’t add much to his already ironclad legacy, it’s undoubtedly a better album than your dad could make. B


ON THE ISLAND A coconut-scented lullaby aided by She & Him

GUESS YOU HAD TO BE THERE Kacey Musgraves brings bubbly Nashville sass

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