To say that the Explorers Club are trying to channel the mid-'60s Beach Boys on Freedom Wind isn't meant as complaint or praise or any other subjective judgment. It's objective. They are trying to channel the Beach Boys, utterly, totally, completely, and they're not pretending otherwise. From the reverb and the ever popular Ronettes drum break starting "Forever" and the album off to the close harmonies and the lyrical subject matter and more, even the studio chatter, this is a Beach Boys clone, tribute, borrowing, imitation, call it what you will. And the band isn't hiding it at all or pretending otherwise — to the point where the CD booklet is produced to seem like a scuffed and well-loved vinyl sleeve starting to rub off a bit around the record's circumference. So all this said, what to say about it? Perversely enough, the fact that they are so direct about it almost makes the whole thing more worthwhile than the endless number of bands that have worn their Brian Wilson fetish on their sleeves but can't get anywhere near what makes that band so great. By wishing they were the band themselves — or wishing they were the Wondermints backing up Brian Wilson, at least — the Explorers Club have produced a nearly unchallengeable album. If you love the Beach Boys' work in its "starting to be dreamily insular" phase, you'll enjoy every last note on here as the familiar combinations they are, different but the same, even while shaking your head with a chuckle at the sheer nuttiness of it all. If you don't like the Beach Boys, you won't like this. There it is; there's all that can be said. -AMG
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