Iconic singer-songwriter Brian Wilson didn't tour with his fellow Beach Boys this year. For all intents and purposes, Wilson is now a solo artist. At 72, he's understandably into his own musical ideas and projects without need for any more artistic or commercial compromise.
Wilson's headlining tour will arrive at Verizon Theatre on June 24. This comes on the heels of the recent Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, which film critic Chris Vognar said takes "a novel and emotionally resonant approach" to the artist's life. There's also a new Wilson solo album, No Pier Pressure, in which he mixes it up with an all-star cast of classic and modern musicians.
While the movie has been praised for its consistency, the new album is all over the place. There are a couple of Beach Boys-throwback-style tracks with longtime bandmate Al Jardine. Wilson's laid-back spirit melds well with Zooey Deschanel's on the loungy She and Him collaboration "On the Island." Chill vibes continue with the banjo-tinged Kacey Musgraves duet "Guess You Had to Be There." And the legend even attempts a taut dance-pop number with Sebu, the singer from Capital Cities.
No Pier Pressure is not exactly the brilliant surf-pop achievement of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds or Wilson's long-gestating solo triumph, Smile, but it'll do for anyone who needs an easy-breezy summer fix. Yet hearing a wildly diverse album of Wilson duets gets us thinking: Would it be worthwhile for him to narrow his focus next and try an LP of collaborations with acts bearing the California aesthetic?
Such bands - inspired both by Wilson's long career and by another strain of beach-ready instrumental acts such as Jan and Dean - are abundant in music today. The allure of the bright guitar lines, washed-out reverb effects and instantly likable melodies will never subside as long as there are daydreams of beach vacations.
One of the acts we'd love to hear Wilson mix it up with - one that's already paid tribute to him on a couple of occasions - is Best Coast, the Los Angeles duo that coincidentally arrives at the Granada Theater the same night Wilson will play in Grand Prairie.
Made up of singer-guitarist Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno, Best Coast effectively boosts the most appealing elements of classic jangly beach rock to a blend more forceful and powerful, especially in a live setting. The third album, California Nights, released earlier this year, is the duo's most fully realized effort yet. It'll surely be exciting to feel the energy and power of songs like the title track and "In My Eyes" in the intimate confines of the Granada.
Still, it's more than a little frustrating to think that the universe probably won't bring Brian Wilson and Best Coast together in North Texas when they're here on the same day. And it's also sad that lovers of their similarly West Coast-centric styles can't go to both shows.
There's always next time. We hope.