14 Classic Albums That Flopped When They Were Released

'Pet Sounds' and more iconic slow burners

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Beach Boys, 'Pet Sounds' (1966)
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Beach Boys, 'Pet Sounds' (1966)

Beach Boys fans expecting to hear more carefree celebrations of cars and girls and surfing rendered in precise All-American harmonies wouldn't have been sure what to make of the intricate, impressionistic orchestral-pop arrangements that Brian Wilson laid on them here. Though the trippy "Sloop John B" and the dreamy "Wouldn't It Be Nice" were both Top 10 hits, Pet Sounds was the group's lowest charting LP of original material since their 1962 debut, Surfin' Safari. As critic Dave Marsh put it, "Pet Sounds wasn't a commercial flop, but it did signal that the group was losing contact with its listeners." But Wilson's peers were listening, and so would younger artists, and Pet Sounds innovations would echo in the art-rock of the Seventies and the indie-pop of the Nineties.