Friday , March 1 2024
A better-late-than-never review. . .

Wondermints, Mind if We Make Love to You

The Wondermints’ Mind If We Make Love to You (Smile/EMI) is the disc for pop-rock junkies who play their Beach Boys’ Brother discs more than any of the group’s earlier hit releases. A glossy collection of tracks that wouldn’t sound out of place on AM radio back in 1973, the disc is the band’s first full collection of original material to debut on an American label (the band’s had two elpees released in Japan and a cover collection that’s received domestic release). Of course, it’s been criminally overlooked since it came out in ’02. Heck, if the mighty Beach Boys couldn’t sell this stuff when it was still relatively contemporary, what chance do the Wondermints have?
Maybe the boys don’t care: if anything, the group (Darian Sahanaja, Nick Walusko, & Mike D’Amico) has grown more uncannily like Brian Wilson & fam in the years since its first limited American single, “Proto-Pretty,” caught the ears of pop nerds everywhere. Make Love‘s highlights play the Wilson card slickly: “Ride,” with its deep-boyish chorus (and guest appearance by Mister Sandbox himself), sounds like something that could’ve come out of the Boys’ Quixotic “Let’s Trounce Sgt. Pepper” era: replete with tempo changes and symphonic flourishes; “Another Way” starts out like a cut Eric Carmen (who once briefly managed this band) might’ve orchestrated, then moves into a blend of Carl Wilson-style lead, gorgeous harmonies and woodsy cello – it all sounds innocently ethereal ’til you realize the lyrics are about a self-destructive grrl; “If I Were You” works a marriage between our California boys and Boston, of all things, without managing to churn into a gloppy mess; while “Everywhere I Go” successfully ventures into the melancholy realm of the Wondermentors’ classic Pet Sounds. All very melodious and (relatively) irony-free. Touring as back-up band for Brian’s live version of Pet Sounds seems to’ve tamped down the boys’ show-off lyrical tendencies.
At times, the band overdoes its soft rock thing: three songs in a row featuring Latinate rhythms overwhelm the best of the three, “Sweetness.” But every time I get to the final cut, the gee-I’’-glad-I’m-in-love-with-a-gurl celebration “So Nice” (also guest-starring Brian), all my qualms about the album have melted. Kind of how I feel playing Sunflower or Surf’s Up: two flawed but ineffably sweet platters fulla pop-rock goodness. I bet the ‘mints wouldn’t mind that comparison at all. . .

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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