Brian Wilson's That Lucky Old Sun is a wide-eyed, sugar-sweet paean to Southern California. The heart and soul of the former Beach Boys echoes the warm, silky harmonies he sang with his brothers, working in all of his favorite sun-drenched idylls of youth, including surfer girls, dream fulfillment and kicking back.
Sun features a handful of sublime moments from a skilled musician content with himself, his life and his craft. Unfortunately, it doesn't take Wilson's oeuvre one inch further from where it stood after his first solo effort back in 1988. The Brian Wilson CD put a sobering spin on the whole surfer-boy paradigm and succeeded brilliantly in its soul-bearing courage and depth. Sun is a lazy effort, content to pick over Brian's sonic bones rather than taking the temperature of its time or pushing a single new musical idea forward.
It might have worked if the piece had more style and craft. But despite the deft conjuring of a few tasty flavors (the best is the closing track, "Southern California"), this is a disappointment. There are several occasions where this disc flops badly and makes one cringe.
In bringing past to present, there's a sense Wilson is looking to bookend his career, in effect, saying a wistful, heartfelt goodbye. You'd hate to see that happen, though at full retirement age, Brian may be sounding a note of realism. Still, it'd be better to have this great talent roll into that endless California sunset with guns blazing.