The third solo album Mike Love released within the span of three years -- clearly, he was re-energized by publishing his autobiography in 2016 -- 12 Sides of Summer takes him back to his cozy comfort zone: tunes about the sun and the beach. The songs largely remain the same, the breezy vibe is familiar, but Love decides to shake things up a bit with the arrangements. "California Sun" swings with blaring big-band horns, "Surfin' Safari" gently bounces to an electro-R&B beat, "Here Comes the Sun" is recast as a bossa nova, the Dave Clark Five's "Over and Over" is turned into sunsplash reggae, and "Keepin' Summer Alive" rolls ahead on power chords. All this sunny variety means Love can serve up a straight-ahead version of the Ramones' "Rockaway Beach" as a closer and have the punk tune seem right at home. Of course, it helps that everything on 12 Sides of Summer, including the Hanson duet "It's OK," is given an incredibly chintzy production that sounds like it was slapped together at home on a tablet computer. There is no air to the record, no bounce or space, everything sounds stiff and rigid, an aesthetic that counters Love's intention to deliver a good time. If the production wasn't as cheap, 12 Sides of Summer would've highlighted the clever reinterpretations of shopworn summer standards, but as it stands, it feels like nothing more than a home-made curio.
12 Sides of Summer Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine