By the time of The Beach Boys’ third album, Brian Wilson had taken over as the group’s producer and main writer, and even at this early stage there are plenty of signs of one of rock music’s most natural talents. The Wilson-fronted material is already at a high level of sophistication in terms of arrangement and chord sequences, not to mention emotionally poignant. Even if the Love-fronted hits here like ‘Catch A Wave’ and ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ are also strong, they’re tacky and shallow next to Wilson classics like ‘In My Room’ and the title track.
I categorically love all the Wilson fronted songs here; not only the celebrated title track and the angsty ‘In My Room’, but also the lesser known ‘Surfer’s Moon’, a beautiful ’50s style ballad with a sweet Brian vocal and orchestration, and the sentimental ‘Your Summer Dream’. Some of the Mike-fronted material is also strong; ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ is deservedly a Beach Boys standard, while ‘Catch A Wave’, ‘Our Car Club’, and ‘Hawaii’ are all pleasant enough.
For a 1963 pop album, that’s actually a pretty good consistency rate; only a pair of pointless instrumentals and the tacky surf songs feel like throwaways.