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MIND IF WE MAKE LOVE TO YOU (Smile Records) • Wondermints

"If I'd had Wondermints in 1967, I'd have taken Smile out on the road," Brian Wilson remarked several years ago. Since then, the once-reclusive Beach Boy has taken Wondermints (no "The," please) out on the road, as part of his huge backing band. And they have performed excerpts from Wilson's unfinished "teenage symphony to God," as well as Pet Sounds in its entirety and other songs from throughout the Beach Boys/Wilson discography--quite wonderfully, in fact. To hear how wonderfully, get hold of Wilson's Live At The Roxy Theatre (on Oglio) and Pet Sounds Live (Sanctuary).

If Wondermints "only" recreated Wilson's complex aural tapestries (layers of fairground keyboards and vibes, coated with subtle, rich webs of guitar) so perfectly and effortlessly, they'd qualify as one of the best bands of the past decade. As it is, the L.A. quartet also happens to write and record its own gorgeous material that pays worthy tribute to a host of 60s and 70s greats.

This fourth Wondermints album conjures up the spirit of early 70s Beach Boys albums Surf's Up and Holland, on which the rest of the group ably filled the creative gap while Brian Wilson stayed in bed. Darian Sahanaja's hearty voice on "Ride," in particular, sounds uncannily like that of short-term Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin. The song itself marries dreamy verses framed by a riff modeled on Carl Wilson's "Feel Flows" (featured in Cameron Crowe's film Almost Famous) to a piano-pounding "Sail on Sailor"-like chorus that won't leave your head. Nick Walusko's "Sweetness" features the, well, sweetest Beach Boys harmonies in nearly 30 years, set to a samba right out of the Sergio Mendes play book.

Mendes would also love the pretty "ba-ba-ba-ba" vocals that drive Mike D'Amico's "Project 11." Sahanaja's "Another Way" sounds like an outtake from the Zombies' baroque masterwork, Odessey & Oracle. And there are plenty of other delightful period references for you to identify.

Wondermints supply "good vibrations" at a time when the world really needs 'em. Even in the saddest sounding songs here, there's an unmistakable optimism. "Feel the love and you will find your way," Sahanaja promises in "Another Way." You can't help but feel the love throughout this beautiful record.
• Barry Gutman

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