Thats God Made the Radio - Capitol, 2012
You almost forget that it's been more than forty years since the group finally delivered a really good album; and rarely has a Beach Boys album been so consistently well written. The vocals are surprisingly strong. Brian does not sound like he did in the 1960s, but Jeffrey Foskett does a convincing job on the high harmonies and Brian's lead vocals are still strong, but in a different way. Al Jardine has hardly sung with more conviction than he does on the fine "From There to Back Again". The harmony vocals are generally very tight and it is difficult to distinguish the individual voices, but pure Beach Boys sound as no other group has managed to create.
The songwriting is, as mentioned, superb. There are more songs written in the Pet Sounds / Smile style with beautiful choral voices - acapella or with very sparse arrangements. For example. "Think About the Days" which works very much the same way as "Our Prayer" did on "Smile" - also "From There to Back Again" and "Pacific Coast Highway" fall into this category, and these songs show evidence that Brian Wilson still manages to write sangs at once complex and melodic.
In the more immediately catchy category you will find a handful of potential hits / classics such as the title track "That's Why God Made the Radio". Classic Beach Boys sound - shamelessly catchy. "The Private Life of Bill and Sue", with its Carrebean beat and strong chorus is another bid for a new classic.
"Beaches in Mind" - may seem a little sketchy - but must be fantastic live-song - again a strong chorus. "Is not it Time" has a bit of the same beat as "Do It Again" - and a great build-up. "Strange World" is a really nice pop ballad. I imagine there will be many cover versions of this particular number. Not very much a typical Beach Boys number - great nonetheless.
The album has the classic slot length of about 40 minutes - a perfect length when all the songs are so listenable. I have played the album at random several times and the numbers work incredibly well together anyway.
The only thing you may miss is a few powerful lead vocals from Carl Wilson - glory be to his memory - otherwise you get more than could reasonably have been expected from a band that has been on the road for 50 years.