"Originally commissioned by the Southbank Centre for its 2007 opening season, the work was debuted in a series of concerts at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England during September 2007. In January 2008 it was also performed at the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia for the Sydney Festival.
The album was written in collaboration with Van Dyke Parks (previous collaborator on SMiLE) and Wilson bandmate Scott Bennett. Wilson describes the album as "consisting of five 'rounds', with interspersed spoken word". Its main theme is celebration of life in Southern California, harking back to the themes of Wilson's earlier work with The Beach Boys. "California Role" and numerous spoken interludes such as "Cinco de Mayo" and "Between Pictures" celebrate the unique culture of Venice Beach, the Los Angeles film industry and numerous Californian landmarks including the Capitol Tower and Hollywood Bowl. Rolling Stone called it a "musical love letter to his native Los Angeles". A pervasive feeling of nostalgia and romance is visible in songs such as "Good Kind of Love", "Oxygen to the Brain" and "Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl", which lyrically echoes the 1962 Beach Boys hit "Surfer Girl". The album also addresses Wilson's personal struggles in "Midnight's Another Day" and "Going Home". The 1940's song "That Lucky Old Sun" originally made famous by Louis Armstrong serves as the overture, and the Wild Honey-era outtake "Can't Wait Too Long" also briefly features. That Lucky Old Sun entered the UK Album Chart at #37 and the Billboard 200 at #21.
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