The Beach Boys

M.I.U. Album/L.A. (Light Album)

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After the relative highs of 15 Big Ones and Love You, the Beach Boys entered -- and never left -- their late-period doldrums with the double shot of 1978's M.I.U. Album and 1979's L.A. (Light Album), reissued by Capitol as a two-fer in 2000. As with the rest of the reissue catalog, these two LPs match perfectly; both are simply packed with the most cloying songs and banal productions of the band's entire career up to that point. "Hey, Little Tomboy," "Bells of Paris," "My Diane," "Match Point of Our Love," "Lady Lynda," "Sumahama" -- these songs don't fail because of boring melodies or poor vocals (though some are), but laughable, childish lyric-writing and themes. (The cover of "Shortenin' Bread" fits right in.) L.A. (Light Album) just barely gets the nod over its predecessor, mostly because the lyrics aren't quite as trite, and there's a bit more variety to the productions -- yes, the infamous disco production "Here Comes the Night" is present, sounding downright adventurous in context. For those just vaguely interested in the Beach Boys' '70s catalog, the jumping-off point came with 15 Big Ones/Love You, so all those who tread farther should be aware they're entering dark territory.

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