Since it is officially summer in the good ol’ U.S.A. now, I have been listening to some of that happy music that used to play on AM radio when I was a kid, the great summery songs that played over the sound system at the pool. It spoke of freedom, romance, and the idealism of youth. It rarely dealt with subjects any more serious than whether that cute girl would consider going steady with me. There was a sweetness, an innocence, an melodic exuberance that just made you feel good.
It has been hard find album-length examples of this kind of music for a long time. Last year, the Beach Boys put out a wonderful record, That’s Why God Made the Radio, which was the first album they had made with Brian Wilson in 16 years. Jeff recommended it last summer and you can also read the wonderful in-depth Rolling Stone review here. Actually, this album is probably best suited for the end of the summer, because it contains a marvelous combination of the songs of innocence and experience that have always marked the best Beach Boys’ records, ending with a fade to sunset.
This summer, I’m enjoying the sun-bathed sounds of She & Him Volume 3. The duo of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel has put together a breezy program of infectious melodies that is unabashedly retro. It is one of the most fully realized reproductions of the pop sound of the 1960’s that I have ever heard. The arrangements, instrumentation, and Ms. Deschanel’s alluring young girl voice are pitch perfect and delightful. She wrote most of the songs on this album, and she inhabits them, joyfully re-creating that pastel 60’s world I can still see in my imagination.
Here’s the song, “I Could’ve Been Your Girl,” from a performance on Conan.