Linus of Hollywood’s Let Yourself Be Happy is not a “new” album, inasmuch as it came out over a year ago. However, Let Yourself Be Happy wasn’t even new the day it was released, inasmuch as it’s designed to sound like something that’s inherently 30 years old. There are moments on this record that seem like someone satirizing Pet Sounds, and that should be a problem. But it’s not. And that’s not because Pet Sounds is so fucking great; it’s because your memories of Pet Sounds are probably better than the album itself. Linus sounds like the memories.
The gap between reality and its alleged replication is not uncommon in hard rock: Kyuss records sound more like Black Sabbath than Black Sabbath records do, and the single most-defining Led Zeppelin song is Kingdom Come’s “Get It On.” But this kind of psychological juxtaposition happens less often in pop, and it’s precisely what makes Let Yourself Be Happy so reassuring. What this album re-creates is the experience of hearing Brian Wilson (and—to a lesser extent—Paul McCartney) by tapping into the perception of what we think that experience is supposed to feel like. We’re reminded of something we never actually heard in the first place.
Linus of Hollywood (as opposed to “Linus of Arabia,” I guess) is one of those guys who play virtually every instrument on their records, and his central songwriting thesis is that every woman on earth is too beautiful to possibly want him around. He paints himself as something of a likable Lloyd Dobler character on “The Girl I’ll Never Have” and “Every Day I Fall in Love Again,” and we’re evidently supposed to deduce that he’s an affable alcoholic on “Thank You for Making Me Feel . . . Better.” Why he covers Ozzy Osbourne’s “Goodbye to Romance” remains a bit unclear, but it sounds exactly the way Marshall Crenshaw would have handled it. Or so I think.
Franklin Castle Recordings, 7510 West Sunset Boulevard, #217, Hollywood, CA 90046, franklincastle.net.