Narrative: Venice Beach
Label: Capitol Records
No one does the Beach Boys revival routine more accurately than the band's somewhat tragic genius. Here, Wilson's vision of his California boyhood is laid out in nostalgic songs ripe with "ahhs" and bouncing beats, as well as spoken-word vignettes. As a vocalist, Wilson sounds like he was just roused from a nap for most of it, but the ballad "Midnight's Another Day" -- which alludes to the singer's dark years of mental distress -- swells into a melancholy heartbreaker, and "Oxygen to the Brain" is his most vital-sounding song in years.