The story of the Beach Boys is like a California-blond version of Amadeus, with Brian Wilson as Mozart and Mike Love as Salieri–except that Salieri had talent. Love’s new memoir, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, seeks to prove his essential artistry and so recaps Wilson’s studio triumphs with detailed notes on how Love saved the day with an apt couplet or, in his finest moment, the lyrics to “Good Vibrations.” Love aches to be seen as a good guy with rough edges smoothed by Transcendental Meditation, but bitterness betrays him, from his toxic speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to a Rolling Stone interview earlier this year. He’s the guy who got the girls, co-wrote the Wilson-less No. 1 hit “Kokomo,” sued for millions in royalties and won rights to the Beach Boys name. Yet the notion that Wilson is a genius and he merely a journeyman gnaws deeply. Love’s most enduring scores are the ones this book is out to settle.
This appears in the October 10, 2016 issue of TIME.