Brian Wilson – Smile (2004)
In the early 2000s, there was plenty of reason for optimism in the music world. The year 2004 in particular provided a bountiful crop for music, regardless of the genre.
Hip Hop? Try Cee-Lo Green or Kanye West.
Scrappy, toe-tapping fun? The Libertines or Kings of Leon ought to do the trick.
Return to form for two of the Masters? Critically acclaimed records by Morrissey and Brian Wilson.
2004 also represented the approximate peak of my obsession with Pet Sounds. As I’m saving my favourites until the end of this project, I probably won’t review that one until about album #996.
Clearly, I was (and I still am) pleased Smile finally saw the light of day.
Pet Sounds it is not, though the bookends of the record are almost as mesmerizing. Considering the record opens with Our Prayer/Gee into Heroes and Villains and closes with the evergreen Good Vibrations, Pet Sounds comparisons, in those cases at least, aren’t completely off the mark. Incidentally, this album does contain animal noises, notably during In the Barnyard!
The great ‘lost’ album is an intriguing listen. Shelved for decades, finally brought to life in the 21st Century, it’s still ahead of its time.
Divided into three movements, at times cartoon-ish, at times brilliant, Smile is full of spectacular arrangements.
The studio recording is fine but for the optimal experience, I’d strongly recommend watching the live performance.
It’s essentially note-for-note, the drums are more prominent in the mix, and it’s fascinating to see the musicians multi-task on stage.