You've Never Heard 'Pet Sounds'?! : All Songs Considered It took All Songs Considered intern Sarah Ventre about everything she had to admit she hadn't listened to The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds in its entirety. In this recurring series, she finally gives it a spin and tells us what she thinks.
NPR logo You've Never Heard 'Pet Sounds'?!

You've Never Heard 'Pet Sounds'?!

Note: This is a recurring series in which we ask our unimaginably young interns to review classic albums they've never heard before. Our current intern at All Songs Considered is Sarah Ventre.

The Beach Boys, 'Pet Sounds.'
Photo courtesy of the artist.

It took about everything I had in me to admit that I hadn't listened to The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds in its entirety. I've long heard it touted as one of the best and most important records of all time by people whom I respect, and who have great taste. I knew a couple of songs on it, and have heard it talked about at length. This is what made it so incredibly intimidating to try and listen to for the first time, 44 years after its release.

Once through, there was little about Pet Sounds that I found especially compelling. I liked it, but it didn't immediately seem like something I would frequently reach for. But I figured I owed it at least a couple more spins.

That's when I started to notice just how pretty the record really is. The vocal harmonies that everyone loves so much, and the many textured layers, began to draw me in. It's easy to gloss over all of the sounds, instruments, and melodies in the mix because they're blended so seamlessly.

The song I really couldn't let go of was "God Only Knows," even though I know it's probably the most popular track on the album.  I wanted to like the other cuts as much. But I couldn't ignore what a beautiful piece it was, and how stirring the twisted phrase, "I may not always love you," is.  It was all so moving, it made me swoon.

When I found this video I was totally caught off guard. I love how calm and sedated it is. If you look for it, you can even notice waiters in suits walking through the crowd in the background. But watch really carefully at around 1:15. Your heart will melt as Dennis Wilson stares deep into your soul. I promise. Your insides will turn into a mushy puddle of longing, joy, desire, and heartbreak. I fell victim to his gaze immediately and without a second thought.


The more I listened, the more I realized that the album has virtually no moments of silence in it. Each song is filled with stacked sounds that provide a fluid backdrop to the guitars and vocals that The Beach Boys are so well-known for. There is a constant, subtle motion that carries the music, and it's easy to see why people get so swept in.

Read more "You've Never Heard..." posts from past interns here.