Listening to Pet Sounds, Watching Pet Stories


Right now I’m in a Music history class. An assignment that I was given was to listen to The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. No, I don’t just mean listen to it, but really listen and intelligently analyze whats going on in the song and understand whats happening internally to me. Along with that I was suppose to watch this documentary on Brian Wilson called “Pet Stories”.

I listened to Pet Sounds, both stereo and mono mixed albums, then I went back and listened to songs from their older albums. Wow, was the thought that popped into my mind. There were so many differences in the music of pet sounds compared to their previous albums. Beside that point the album made them seem different. Before Pet Sounds the vibe of the band seemed to just be some teenagers from a beach town chasing girls and talking about singular problems. Problems mainly faced by teens. On all the albums I mainly found songs about chasing girls or dilemmas with their parents. Even in their album covers it portrays a group of young guys basically doing young guy things.

Brian Wilson, a member of The Beach Boys, was one of two of the writers, and a composer, and arranger for all their music. The documentary shed a light on the major role that Brian Wilson took on in writing the music of Pet Sounds. His role in the album was possibly the most important part of the conception of the album. With all of the experiences he drew on to write the music, and tirelessly being around the music when recorded in the studio to make sure it came out exactly “how it sounded in his head”. It’s obvious why it solidified its place in history.

As I had said before, on previous albums The Beach Boys seemed to just use the same instruments and not many at that. On Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson brought out a whole slew of orchestral instruments for this album. Along with that, he used vocal harmonies that were tightly sewn into the music. Violins, Violas, Flutes, and percussion instruments not normally used in pop music before.

When I listened to the sounds of Pet Sounds, I fell into a groovy little atmosphere. The music drew me in immediately, causing me to bob my head to the music or tap my foot. The vocal harmonies fit so well that at one point I realized that I had totally stopped hearing the vocals and was just listening to the music with a smile on my face. I started to see where Brian Wilson’s thoughts were when he made these songs. Flutes coming in and adding an air of light hearted melody. Low tom hits at parts that were meant to be dramatic. Each song became a story lead by the instruments that were mixed higher rather than lower at times.

References for this topic are on the Reference tab.