If there is one thing I've learnt as a deck-hand on the good ship Chimpomatic it is not to jump to hasty conclusions. The case of the Explorers Club is a perfect illustration of this truism. On hearing the opening 'be my baby'-esque beats of 'Forever' my snap assessment was 'some-one should call Phil Spector and tell him that he's been robbed'. Which would have been rather premature. From that moment onwards it was clear that it had been wise to defer judgement. It transpired that if anyone needed to be informed that their genius had been pilfered then the only person who should be called is undoubtedly Brian Wilson. The Explorers Club main man Jason Brewer appears to be on a mission to write his version of the mythical 'lost' Beach Boys' album 'Smile' seemingly unaware that Wilson himself had already re-discovered and polished it down a few years back.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then if Wilson ever hears 'Freedom Wind' he will be blushing a profuse scarlet colour. Explorer's Club are less influenced by the Beach Boys than their unofficial re-incarnation. Soaring harmonies. Tick. Orchestral arrangements. Check. Lyrics of love and innocence lost. Present and correct. It would be a wonder if Brewer didn't write his songs on a baby grand piano in a sand pit. The Explorers Club are the ultimate in tribute acts, albeit one that puts out records rather than reminiscing on a revival tours. All of which beggars the question 'what's the point?'. If you were too young to camp it up Frieda and Agnetta or sing back 'yeah yeah yeah' to John, Paul, George and Ringo then a night with Bjorn Again or the Bootleg Beatles serves a purpose. But what's the point of listening to Explorer's Club when the authentic original thing is just as easily brought or downloaded? Does anybody buy supermarket own brand cola when the 'real thing' is selling at the same price? Does the coolest kid at school ask his Mum to buy trainers with 4 stripes when the 'brand with 3 stripes' is on offer? No. And I would recommend that if you are not unfamiliar with this kind of surfing summer sound then check out Pet Sounds and Wild Honey before you even think about listening to Explorer's Club (and even then go check out the Byrds or the Mamas and Papas before you do).
Sadly the thought surfing through my mind when listening to Explorer's Club was of a sit-com I previously thought was rather forgettable. Remember when Nicholas Lyndhurst could walk back in time to the East-End during World War Two? He'd cheekily tickle the ivories of the pub Joanna with Beatles numbers passed off as his own. How we laughed as the regulars marvelled at his ear for a tune and the fresh nature of his music. It seems that Explorer's Club space-time portal has mistakenly jumped forward in time rather than turning back the clocks. Nevertheless they are still trying to palm of music from 1967 as if we'd never heard it before. Except that we have. Consequently in the 21st century these songs about 'going steady' now just sound contrived and slightly ridiculous.