Sax von Stroheim writes:
In the title song, memories turn to nostalgia right before our eyes: “Every now and then we hear our song”, but the very fact that it’s “our song” means that all it can do is remind us of what’s already past. “Won’t be long til summer time is through,” Mike Love sings. Who knows what comes next?
The album features their first #1 hit: “I Get Around”. In some ways, this is the song they had been working towards since their earliest work: recasting teenage life as a heroic epic, a band of brothers throwing themselves against the boredom and opportunity of Southern California: “I’m getting bugged driving up and dow the same old strip/I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip.”
The flip side of the cool customer in “I Get Around”, who doesn’t go steady out of consideration for his best girl’s feelings, is the sad sack in “Wendy”, the nice guy who finished last and doesn’t get what happened. Beta heartbreak.
If songs like “Ole Betsy” and “Little Deuce Coupe” showed us boys more in love with their cars than their girls, “Little Honda” might be seen as a step towards adulthood, in that what’s important to the singer about the motorbike isn’t that it’s super fast, but that he can take his girlfriend anywhere she wants to go on it (which means she has to “hang on tight”).
We get another premonition of a Pet Sounds with “We’ll Run Away”, a more straightforward, less duplicitous version of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”:
In the face of the British Invasion, they reaffirm rock and roll’s roots in the U.S.A.:
And in the middle of this album sits their greatest song. “The girls on the beach/Are all within reach,” Brian sings, but what the song is really talking about is the utopian dream that is forever just out of reach, even in Southern California.
Winding it all up, a call to arms, a Pindarian ode to the courage of the surfers, an ideal for all of us to live up to:
When a twenty-footer sneaks up like a ton of lead
And the crest comes along and slaps ‘em upside the head
They’re not afraid, not my boys
They grit their teeth, they don’t back down