The new film “Love & Mercy” looks at the brilliant and troubled Brian Wilson around the time of the Beach Boys’s artistic breakthrough, “Pet Sounds,” as well as in his addled 1980s. Brian had been bullied by his father, heard voices and fell deep into LSD.
But the Beach Boys had more problems than just Brian’s psychology. Californians get tired of hearing their state described in dichotomous terms of sunshine and noir. But if there was ever a band with a stark contrast between clean-cut innocence and nasty stuff beneath the surface, it’s these guys. Compared to them, the Stones are art-school poseurs dabbling in Satanic imagery.
And if you look closely, you can see the weirdness from almost the very beginning. “Don’t Worry Baby” is one of their best pre-“Pet Sounds” songs, with complex vocal harmonies and an unforgettable melody. It’s also – especially if you watch the band perform the song – deeply creepy.