The Beach Boys went way deeper than the radio hits they're best known for.

Songs about surfing, girls, cars and sunny California were an early part of their history, no doubt. But once the group – and especially leader, main songwriter and producer Brian Wilson – got bored with those subjects, they moved on to more adult themes and records that are among the very best American pop music ever made, as you'll see in our list of Beach Boys Albums Ranked Worst to Best.

Once that glow wore off, Wilson went to work on some epic records that helped steer the course of pop history. Pet Sounds, from 1966, one-upped the Beatles as far as studio constructions go; when the British group countered with Revolver, Wilson started piecing together what should have been his masterpiece. But Smile was shelved after Wilson's fragile mental state left him unable to finish his ambitious project. (The album was eventually released in 2011 as a box set that attempted to make sense of the chaotic sessions. We've included that record in our rankings.)

The Beach Boys' story got only weirder and wilder from there, including various trips up and down the charts over the years, and creative spurts that yielded many of their greatest albums long after most music fans gave up on them. Their loss. As you'll see in our list of Beach Boys Albums Ranked Worst to Best, they built their legacy on more than just surfing songs.