Wondermints

Wondermints

Mind if We Make Love to You

Smile

You’ll have to forgive the Wondermints if their own musical output hasn’t received their full attention in recent years. If you had the chance to back up Brian Wilson on tour, you’d go for it too. But the L.A. band is back with their first full-length record since 1998’s Bali, and it shows the distinct imprint of their alliance with the former Beach Boy. Wilson even returns the favor by making some cameo appearances on Mind if We Make Love to You. And many tracks here exhibit the obsessively produced, meticulously arranged style he brought to Pet Sounds and other classics.

That’s particularly true of the opening “On The Run,” “Listen,” and the pretty set-closing “So Nice.” “Ride” starts off with Beach Boys-like keyboards and vocals before morphing into something a bit more Beatle-y. The lyrics are all about sun, boys and girls, the search for love and going on a “Technicolor motor ride.”

“Shine On Me” is more of a ’70s pop creation with lots of horns and strings and more “good news from the sun.” The dense production and impressive musicianship is impeccable throughout. A touch of lazy California country rock along the lines of America or Bread creeps into “Time Has You.” The piano-driven “Another Way” is a bit Badfinger-esque and features a nifty English horn solo. And “Out Of Mind” borrows some late ’60s/early ’70s spacey psychedelia. Only “Sweetness” wears out its welcome with an irritating keyboard sound and truly dopey lyrics: “I saw the future / I saw delight / I saw somebody baby / Taking me higher.”

The Wondermints’ only problem is they don’t really have much of a personality to call their own, especially vocally and lyrically. Guitarists Darian Sahanaja and Nick Walusko and drummer Mike D’Amico all sing adequately but without much character. The lyrics are invariably some dated, hippy-dippy nonsense about getting high on sunshine. One song rhymes “Kodachrome still” with “Mr. DeMille.” Maybe it would sound odd to sing about anything else against these brilliantly pilfered musical backdrops, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to hear them address more modern concerns. As they are, the Wondermints offer little more than inspired pastiche. Better not let that Dr. Landy steal your meal ticket away fellas.

Smile Records: http://www.smilerec.com

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