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Smile

Brian Wilson

2004

Smile
Album Summary

Brian Wilson Presents Smile (also referred to as Smile or the abbreviation BWPS) is the fifth studio album by American musician Brian Wilson, released September 28, 2004 on Nonesuch. It features all-new recordings of music that he had originally created for Smile, an unfinished album by the Beach Boys that he abandoned in 1967. Revisiting Smile was an intense emotional undertaking for Wilson, as he had been deeply traumatized by the circumstances that had originally surrounded the project. Wilson initially agreed to revisit Smile in the form of a live concert performance as a follow-up to his 2000–2002 Pet Sounds tour. From October to November 2003, he worked with keyboardist Darian Sahanaja and original lyricist Van Dyke Parks in assembling a three-movement structure for BWPS while embellishing the material with newly written lyrics and melodies. Wilson and his band premiered it at the Royal Festival Hall in London on February 20, 2004. Motivated by the positive reception, he then adapted the performance as a studio-recorded solo album. None of the other Beach Boys were involved with BWPS, nor with the documentary that covered its making, Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile. BWPS was universally acclaimed by critics and peaked at number 13 in the US and number 7 in the UK. It earned Wilson his first Grammy Award, winning in the category of Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow". In 2011, the album's sequencing served as a blueprint for The Smile Sessions, a compilation dedicated to the original Beach Boys recordings. In 2020, BWPS was ranked number 399 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". It has been certified platinum by the RIAA, indicating one hundred thousand units sold.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.02

Votes

9325
Genres
Pop
Rock

Reviews

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Sun Nov 13 2022
5

This album is breathtaking. I nearly wrote a whole thing about separating art from its context. About how my appreciation of BWPS really has very little to do with the music itself. About how Smile plays more like a great documentary about the making of a great piece of art that was never actually made. About how it all feels a little nostalgic, a little "Disney." About how there's a quality to the mix and production of BWPS that I find unpleasantly nostalgic, stale, flat, over-produced. There's an element certainly that feels like a museum piece—the ornate stitching around the album art helps hit that home, as does the word "presents" in the album title. Not too mention the fact that there are far better recordings of many of these songs scattered across various post-Smile-sessions Beach Boys' albums, and that BWPS doesn't feature any other Beach Boys members. But—now that I've gotten those asides out of my system—I can reaffirm that this album is truly breathtaking. I think those struggles I have with BWPS are accurate, but the truth is listening to this album is an experience unlike any other I can think of in modern music. Recorded and released nearly 40 years after the 24-year-old originally sat down and attempted to record it, had a nervous breakdown, and ultimately abandoned the project, Smile is packed with so much emotional drama, so much story, so much humanity...it really makes me want to cry just thinking about Brian Wilson's personal struggle and ultimate success with this piece art. Sure, a part of me wonders constantly about the version of Smile that might have been recorded in 1967 as originally envisioned (and I can't help but miss the younger Brian Wilson's falsetto in these songs, either). But that doesn't take away from my thoroughly enjoying the version that the elder Brian Wilson released in 2004. In fact, it's an essential part of the experience of listening to BWPS. Listening to this album is to reflect on time, art, and age. To wonder about our younger selves and older selves, and if they're really the same person. To wonder if the art that we might have made in our youth could ever truly be re-created in our middle-to-old age. And to marvel specifically about the emotional journey Brian Wilson took in revisiting this material; reflecting on his younger self—a younger self in the throes of his traumatic, emotionally wrought, defining hours no less—and reclaiming a forgotten dream. I admire this album a great f***ing deal. This album is as great a champion of the human spirit as I can think of. And actually listening to the music, only heightens the emotional pull of that experience. Many moments on this album seriously make me want to cry in the same way I almost always cry listening to "God Only Knows." It's the music itself, but it's also the tragic, heartbroken figure of Brian Wilson inside of it. To hear him struggling through his music. Expressing his deepest feelings and personal anguish and doing it through the traditionally rigid confines of a 1960s pop format. Not to mention, there are some wonderful melodies and great pop experiments here. The whole album has a wonderfully cohesive, downriver flow to it. It's a very strange storybook sort of experience to actually sit down and listen to it. To unpack its movements, its textures, its characters, its geography, and musical histories. It's magical. But I'm also a Brian Wilson fanatic. In the liner notes for this album, author David Leaf asks, "Does Smile exist?" It's a legitimate question. And as an album that I think requires knowing some backstory to appreciate, it's hard to argue that this album really stands on its own in the way it might have in 1967. But does anything? BWPS is the realization of dream. It's music that soars well beyond the confines of music. It exists in our cultural unconscious; in our minds and in our hearts. Of course Smile exists. It always has. I was going to give them album a 4 but screw it, it's a 5.

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

I waited all my life for this, there's no way it's getting a bad review. I loved Smiley Smile, the 'best effort' that was put out when the label realised it would never be finished. Any album that contains Heroes and Villains and Good Vibrations is a clear contender for best album ever. That it also contains the delightful Vegetables too is just gilding the lily. Is it better than Pet Sounds? It's genuinely a possibility. One was ambitious but still sounded traditional. This might be a step too far ambition wise (certainly it was for Brian Wilson's mental health), but it reaches for the stars and sometimes comes tantalisingly close to touching them.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

Wow. This is something. I'm glad I had the time to give it a focused listen. I think it might not be quite so great in the background but, as an activity all its own, this album's got layers galore to explore. It's symphonic with its movements and recurring motifs, one piece of music rather than a collection of songs. Tantalizing snippets of the familiar melody from Good Vibrations appear early in the album in Song for Children. Heroes and Villains and Surf's Up are similarly teased before those songs actually start. The instrumentation is incredible: strings, brass, woodwinds, a deep percussion bench, whistles (so many whistles!), power tools. So much to discover on repeated listens. (I appreciated the inclusion of the instrumental Heroes and Villains bonus track to hear some of the sounds I missed the first time through.) Lyrics are often child-like and nonsensical, often just repeated words, phrases and sounds, using the voices as more instruments as opposed to a means to tell a story. I'm so grateful that Brian Wilson found the strength to come back and finish this after a tough 40 years. It did indeed make me SMiLE.

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Thu May 26 2022
3

Do I appreciate the history? YES Would I ever listen to this again? NO

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

I still feel like a Beach Boys/Brian Wilson novice - I haven’t even listened to PET SOUNDS yet for crying out loud - so I’m not sure I’m ready for SMiLE, but here goes… Talk about an aptly named album! The choir opening leads into “Heroes and Villains” and I couldn’t help but smile. It’s fun and inventive and I instantly loved it from beginning to end. Old favorites like “Surf’s Up” and “Good Vibrations.” Vegetables. Sea shanties. Barnyard animals. SMiLE is a genuine adventure! Despite the inevitable changes in Brian Wilson and the world in the nearly 40 years it took to complete SMiLE it feels like a vision fully realized. I’m stunned by this mythical creature that has appeared in my headphones. I love listening to this. I love that Brian Wilson created this. I love that this can exist. I love SMiLE.

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Mon Apr 11 2022
5

This album has been a top five album for me for quite a while. Though I’m more partial to the 2011 release made with the original 1967 tapes, this release is more fleshed out and features lyrics that were never recorded by The Beach Boys. I won’t rehash the history of this album, but it was intended as The Beach Boys’ follow up to Pet Sounds. I firmly believe that if this album had been completed and released, it would have eclipsed Sgt. Pepper in its influence. Just its mystery alone, along with bootlegs cobbled together by fans as speculative releases gave credence to this album’s supposed genius. And genius is exactly what I would call this album. It is a kaleidoscope of Americana with ponderous and abstract lyrics by the great poet Van Dyke Parks told through Brian Wilson’s incredible and complex songwriting. Themes arise and are revisited and inverted to thread the album together to culminate in the emotional release of Good Vibrations in what is perhaps the most satisfying ending to an album ever. Surfs Up remains my favorite pop song and this album is always in heavy rotation.

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Thu Nov 03 2022
5

I went through a phase a few years ago when I had Pet Sounds on very heavy rotation, so it’s fair to say I love the songs by the Beach boys that I’ve already heard. Google says this is Brian Wilson’s version on an unreleased Beach Boys album from many moons ago. I’m excited to listen! Songs I already knew: Good Vibrations Favourites: Heroes and Villains, Cabin Essence I know this is a bold thing to say, but this was an actual perfect album. I’ve never been a believer of there being no such thing as perfection and this is a prime example of this. Brian’s composing is far beyond anything I’ve heard before. The opening track Our Prayer is comparable to a symphony, but with only voice. Heroes and Villains is much the same, but with a typical orchestra thrown into the mix too. There is so much going on with this music, and yet it manages to never sound too busy or overwhelming. It’s common knowledge that Brian Wilson isn’t the most mentally well man in the world, and being able to write something as beautiful as this in the midst of ongoing hallucinations should inspire people everywhere to never let anything stop you from doing what you love.

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Mon Dec 05 2022
5

This album is nearly perfect and just absolutely incredible. Particularly for how good it sounds after so much time and history and gestation. What an accomplishment for Brian Wilson--a true masterpiece. We should consider ourselves lucky and fortunate that this even exists.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

I have heard of this album and even had added it to my library a while back, as I was curious about it. Today was my first listen, however. I am glad I have finally taken the time to explore it! The album was not an assembly of singles, but rather a musical event meant to be experienced in it entirety. The recurring musical themes and deliberately designed transitions make the album more of a work of art...one that I can appreciate. I will say that for some of the tracks where I am already familiar with the versions from The Beach Boys, I was not always thrilled. However, as an overall album, I can totally dig it!

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Tue Apr 12 2022
5

Brian Wilson is a genius, I don't know if I need to say anything else. I honestly think I like SMiLE more than Pet Sounds. The fact that this was unable to be released in this manner in the 60s is a tragedy. This world has been so unkind to Brian and I am so glad that he found the strength to fulfill his dreams after so many years of abuse and adversity.

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Fri Oct 28 2022
5

Well… that was a bloody brilliant, beautifully bonkers ride through Brian Wilson’s mind. A true creative maverick and songwriting genius.

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Sun Nov 13 2022
5

I can't believe I never listened to this album! What an emotional conclusion to Smile. The first two songs made me tear up, thinking of what this must have been like to actually finish after so many years. I'd listened to the Smile sessions dozens of times before, but I would always come away confused its overall direction. It felt beautiful and far advanced from Pet Sounds, but incomplete. This really feels like all the pieces of the puzzle are in their place. And what a treatment! Brian's writing is incomparable... wide-eyed and childlike, but always with some complexity lurking. Now that everything is arranged the way it was intended to be, it makes so much sense. The album plays out like a film or musical... very strong arcs. I could gush about this more, but I mean... it's one of my favorite and most cherished songwriters, finally realizing a vision that was a dream for 40 years. Emotional and captivating. 5 absolutely deserved stars. As an album, it feels completely realized, in a way that I never appreciated before

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Fri Mar 03 2023
5

Incredible. If Brian was able to record this at the Beach Boys’ prime as intended, this would have undeniable GOAT status, but even now it’s unbelievably gorgeous music. A

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Thu Mar 16 2023
5

Originally drafted after “Pet Sounds” as a “teenage symphony to god”, SMiLE was abandoned by Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson after numerous setbacks and mental breakdowns, as well as the release of Sgt. Pepper. Now, nearly 40 years later, Brian finally brought a fully matured version of SMiLE to listeners, presenting what is probably the greatest pop album in the 2000s. The album lives up to its title and then some. It’s just so… fun. Are there better performances of the songs on other existing Beach Boys albums? Yes. But this album’s flow between them all is unmatched. Infectious pop hooks framed with an orchestra and packed vocal section, glazed with witty lyrics by original SMiLE collaborator Van Dyke Parks, all come together with the trademark Beach Boys harmonisation to dazzle the listener. And not a dull moment is heard on this album. Truly one for the ages, and a worthy fulfilment of Brian’s promise all those years ago. Standout Songs: “Heroes and Villains” “Roll Plymouth Rock” “Surf’s Up” “Vege-Tables” “In Blue Hawaii” “Good Vibrations”

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Fri May 05 2023
5

The Beach Boys’ lost masterpiece is at last given the arrangement it has so long cried out for. Deeply emotional, satisfyingly complex, it represents the apex of Brian Wilson’s songwriting skill.

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Thu Jun 02 2022
4

It can't get a 5 because I feel it is lacking the magic and fun of the original recordings. It's brilliant and beautiful but original flavour is always the best.

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Wed Sep 14 2022
4

Really interesting, especially reading the history. Like a symphony at times, but bouncing between rich harmonies, complex songs, and goofy, childish tunes. Only a few that can really be called songs. A huge range of instruments.

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Fri Oct 28 2022
4

First time I've heard this and it's great.

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Mon Feb 07 2022
3

Half a dozen great songs, and then a bunch of snippets and unfinished music fragments stitched together and padded out to album length. Lots of good ideas, but most don’t really feel fleshed out. Not the masterpiece that critics and a lot of people will tell you it is.

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Tue Feb 15 2022
3

A multitalented songwriter with a tremendous grasp of musical styles, but the songs are all too disjointed to feel like you ever really get “into” it.

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Sun Dec 11 2022
2

“Lying in Bed Just like Brain Wilson Dead” I understand Brian Wilson covered this Bare Naked Ladies’ song on one of his tours. Why wasn’t there room on the 1001 for a Bare Naked Ladies’ LP? They could have left this Brian Wilson album off the list.

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Tue Jun 20 2023
2

I agree with Noel Gallagher on this

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Wed Feb 02 2022
1

Utter rubbish, only managed to listen to a few tracks before giving up. Beachboys on an extremely off day.

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Wed Jan 05 2022
5

Amazing album! Brian Wilson is my hero

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

This is pretty amazing, a resurrected labor of love from decades previous. Rather than a collection of songs, it is a musical work in movements, full of interesting vignettes complete with sound effects. Although that sounds very high and mighty, it is still a lot of fun. Each listening reveals another gemstone. It is impossible to separate this work from its long, complicated history, but beyond that amazing achievement, it's a joy to listen to. "Heroes and Villains," "Surf's Up," and "Good Vibrations" were each amazing as Beach Boys recordings, but they sound absolutely incredible here. Each of them is composed of their own internal movements. This is an absolutely amazing experience!

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Wed Jan 26 2022
5

J'imagine pas la force d'esprit qu'il faut avoir pour terminer le plus gros échec de sa vie 40 ans plus tard. Prefs: Heroes and Villains, Roll Plymouth Rock, Cabin Essence, Surf's Up, Vega-Tables, In Blue Hawaii, Good Vibrations. Moins pref: Barnyard

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Wed Feb 02 2022
5

This album was so good! It was about time I gave this a listen. The only song I didn't really like was Mrs O'Leary's Cow, but that's not enough to give this album less than a 5.

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Tue Mar 08 2022
5

This is is, an album to make you smile. This is really fun.

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Mon Mar 28 2022
5

Always got time for a bit of Brian.

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Sat Apr 23 2022
5

Необычная судьба у альбома. Но то, что он был доделан, меня радует. И по звучанию он здоровский. Необычный :)

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Tue May 17 2022
5

9/10 Goofy ass album cover 💀 Really fun. Brian Wilson is a genius. I always have “Caroline, No” from petsounds in rotation bc it sounds like he’s talking to me and I like to talk back. I love the way that he keeps fluctuating with volume. I especially love the moments when it’s really big and loud. So childish but in such a good way. SO MUCH FUN. I love the recurring elements of this album and how things seem to tie together very often. So silly. Reminds me of an episode of Mickey Mouse clubhouse Reminds me of the circus. Glamorizes rural America in a way that could make anyone want to run away to Idaho or smthn. ++ Super beachy I just love how cinematic it is. I can feel the strings and harmonies from the depths of my SOUL. Standout tracks: Heroes and Villains, Child is Father of the Man

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Mon Jun 06 2022
5

The fact that this album exists in a form that Wilson was happy to release it is just amazing Now that the Smile Sessions are out, it's hard not to compare the two and I don't think this recording holds up as well as the sessions from back in the day, but it's still just a delight to listen to

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Fri Sep 09 2022
5

I’m so glad he finally finished this album.

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Fri Oct 28 2022
5

I love this! I love Brian Wilson. It's like Pet Sounds lost prodigal sibling.

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Fri Oct 28 2022
5

Beach Boy floored by Sgt Pepper. Is it better than Pet Sounds? No. Is it great? Yes. It's hard to separate the album from the narrative - a lovely redemption story of a sad old man who lost his way and then found it again three decades later. And why would you? It's a heart warming slice of nostalgia that happily diverts from the shitty world right now.

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Wed Dec 07 2022
5

Exaltação da qualidade do pop e rock em simbiose.

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Sun Dec 11 2022
5

It's not better than Pet Sounds, but it's just as special

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Wed Jan 11 2023
5

This was fantastic. 5 stars.

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Thu Apr 06 2023
5

Great timing, as I recently finished reading Brian Wilson's autobiography (the one from 2016, not the earlier one). Brian Wilson's story overall in fascinating - the abusive father, the rise of a musical genius, mental health and drug issues, a controlling therapist, and then finally finding love and his recovery and resurgence as an artist. The legend of this album was always the anchor weighing him down, and the fact that he was able to finally complete it almost 40 years after its inception is incredible. Is it as great as the Beach Boys in their prime, i.e. Pet Sounds? I don't think so, but there is still a lot of the brilliance and magic of those earlier times. That, combined with the backstory of this album, is enough to make this a 5 star album for me.

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Sun Apr 23 2023
5

This album grows on you, just like Pet Sounds. Keep listening and you will become entranced.

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Wed Apr 26 2023
5

I grew up hearing a lot of the Beach Boys' "surf music," which I enjoyed. At some point in my late twenties, I asked for 'Pet Sounds' for Christmas, and I was blown away that the same guys who sang "Surfin' Safari" and "409" could make an album like that. I've never listened to any of Brian Wilson's solo work, but I consider him to be the one that led The Beach Boys into their post "surf music" era, so I had high expectations for this album. I was not let down. This album is incredible. Wilson's ability to create beautiful harmonies is showcased throughout this album. The experimental and varied instrumentation is showcased here too; there's plenty of strings, keyboards, guitars, whistles, and Christ-knows-what-else to go around on this album. But even with all of the different instrumental sounds, the album never feels bloated or busy; everything is in its rightful place to create an incredible experience. I don't know much about the history of how this project evolved from its foundations in the sixties to what Wilson put together over 35 years later, but this album reminded me of what I loved about my first time listening to 'Pet Sounds.' I wish that I would have had time to listen to this album a second time today, so that I could put together some thoughts on individual songs, but it just wasn't meant to be. However, I'll definitely be revisiting this album soon.

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Tue May 09 2023
5

Where do I begin with this most mythic album? I learned of the great lost masterpiece when I was in college in the early 2000s. We would download stem tracks of unknown origins, and people would compile their own hypothetical approximations. The narrative and mystique surrounding SMiLE is the stuff of legend - almost sacred in certain circles, including my own. It was a thing of perfect beauty when it existed only in these little glimmers, and the rest was left to your imagination. Which is why, when Brian Wilson decided to record this version in 2004, I was hesitant to listen to it at first. I was worried it would be too little, too late - afraid it would shatter that perfect vision I had. Boy was I wrong. In fact I'd have to say it far exceeded my expectations. This is one of the most singularly original pieces of music ever recorded, and I am jealous of all those who got to see it performed live around the time of its release. It is not only an incredibly rich musical experience, but the story behind it represents the triumph of the human spirit and creativity itself. The fact that Brian Wilson was able to finally confront, overcome, and ultimately embrace what he considered to be his life's greatest failure is nothing short of miraculous. This has to be the grandest, most beautiful catharsis ever recorded. Its complex structure is anchored by 4 absolute pillars of songwriting; "Heroes and Villains," "Cabin Essence," "Surf's Up," and "Good Vibrations," each of which is like a mini-epic of its own. Those crown jewels are situated in the surrounding material in such a way that they become almost inseparable from their context once you hear it as it was intended. When taken altogether, it truly sounds like a teenage symphony to God. All that being said, I do have a strong preference for the 2011 Smile Sessions version, which uses the original Beach Boys recordings. Although BWPS does contain some notable and interesting differences, I wish it was Smile Sessions which was in its place on this list. If you like what you hear on BWPS, I beg you to give Smile Sessions a listen on a good pair of headphones to experience these songs in their full glory. These 5 stars are for the idea of SMiLE in all its forms. May it live forever alongside the works of the greatest composers.

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Sun Jun 18 2023
5

Phenomenal. So complex and ahead of it’s time. Easy to understand why Brian Wilson drove himself to the edge with this in his head but never able to get it out to the world. Rating: 4.9

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Fri Aug 04 2023
5

Had it been released in December 1966 as it was originally planned, it would have changed the course of popular music forever. It was ahead of its time by decades. I can be grateful this was released four decades later because it is a brilliant and genius work. The emotions throughout the record, the arrangements, the vocal harmonies, everything is top notch.

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Wed Aug 09 2023
5

This is a very impressive release that really looks like a personal effort of a very dedicated (maybe obsessive) person. It sounds like a continuation of the Beach Boys' work at the same time that includes many new pieces of music highly interesting for any music fan. A mixture of styles and lyrics, and instruments that compounds a masterpiece. Unfortunately, it sounds a bit old for 2004, but having in mind it was planned to be a BB album after Pet Sounds is enough to get all the geniality behind it.

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

This album should have been as great as Sgt pepers and a step further after the already masterpiece pets sounds, unfortunatly, Brian Wilson who was struggling with serious mental ilness and drugs addiction couln't complete the projet, but he finaly did decades later. I say that altough not all of the songs are wonderfull and exceptional, but as a whole, this album is pretty much a masterpiece, i'll say technicaly better than pet sounds, put pets sounds is more coherent, beautiful and as better songs. The vocal harmony are the best of all beachs boys album, the songs are complexe and ambicious. The best one is of course Good Vibrations wich is on of the best song of all times in terms of complexity and sounds. Wonderfull is very good, heros and vilains, vege-tables and Cabin Essence are my favorites.

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Thu Sep 07 2023
5

Absolument ludique et joyeux. Instrumentation surprenante et bien utilisée. Harmonies font penser aux Beach Boys, mais beaucoup de variations de rythmes et d'univers

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Thu Sep 21 2023
5

I hate acapella. My friends know this, and I'll even give unsolicited advice to undergrads to never do acapella. That being said, the compositions in this album are incredible, and innovative. The killer motif developed in "Heroes and Villains" introduces so much tension, and only resolves with a simple key (mode? chord?) change. Brian brings that motif right back in Plymouth Rock, but follows the resolution with blaring Bah's, which is such a cool way to interrupt the sense of calm from the resolution. Here are some other unorganized notes, I also like the pairing of Song For Children and Child is the Father of the Man. Our Prayer is absolutely beautiful, and a really nice call back to standard Beach Boys (or my idea of standard Beach Boys at least). Brian keeps pulling back that motif from Heros and Villains throughout the album, which would feel tired if it wasn't so goddamn compelling. My last applause from Brian comes from the fact that Smile has currently dethroned both Bat Out of Hell and Rage Against the Machine as the album I'm listening to this week, no mean feat given both my dislike of acapella, and my longstanding love of Meatloaf. 6/5 stars if I could.

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Wed Oct 25 2023
5

It’s difficult to separate this album from the original tapes of the Smile from 1967, which I think is one of the greatest artworks of all time. For that reason, I will give this a 5, even if I think the original version is much better. Either way, the compostions remain almost intact so this thing still omits surges of intense beauty even in Brian’s elderly voice.

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

I have always admired the Beach Boy's complex harmonies. Having seen the movie Love and Mercy, and knowing the story behind this album, I am very glad that Brian Wilson got this opportunity to finally complete this album. But of course this album only leaves us to wonder what the original could've been like.

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Wed Nov 08 2023
5

This felt like revisiting the best of Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys. Throughly enjoyed this. 4.5 stars

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Sun Nov 12 2023
5

5 of 5… could listen any day- happy and light hearted and fun. Love me some Beach Boys music, especially when I’m in a bad mood.

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Fri Nov 17 2023
5

Loved this album! Brian Wilson is amazing!

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Mon Nov 27 2023
5

Suprised I went to high on this. Blew me away and listened to it 3 times. It’s not new to me, I remember going to the record store and buying the cd the day it came out and I’ve always liked it but not as much as my favorite Beach Boys records nor as much as the now 12-year old Smile Sessions. But this listen, my first in many years - and through lossless on Qobuz was truly eye opening. Yes, it’s an aged Brian, but it almost works better? It adds verses, it tightens the sketches, it sounds more like a fever dream (in a good way) with the extra strain on his voice. The sequencing is so smooth. Idk man, sometimes a record you are intimately familiar with just suddenly HITS DIFFERENT. Now I can’t imagine this not being one of my favorite records ever for the rest of my days.

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Tue Dec 05 2023
5

Brian Wilson's (and the Beach Boys for that matter) most adventurous project is a fascinating complex patchwork. A song cycle comprising of voices, instruments, tin pan alley, art-rock and theater. Whereas Pet Sounds was all about emotions and feelings of the heart, these are songs for the head with cryptic lyrics, displaying strong influences from early-mid 20th century Americana, along the lines of Gershwin etc. The Beach Boys finally released Smile in 2011, and that version just about gets the edge, but this is still excellent and at times, the music is breath-taking.

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Wed Dec 27 2023
5

Godlike, beautiful songwriting. Wonderfully pleasing My only problem is that you can tell it was recorded in the 2000s and not the 1960s, it sometimes sounds too modernly polished in a bad way. Guess I need to check out that Smile Sessions album.

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

What a joyously perfect record - intertwining harmonies and beautiful songs. This was already a favourite and I remember it took a couple of listens before I really saw its genius - but now I kind of see it as a slightly better brother of Sgt Pepper.

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Sun Feb 11 2024
5

Sometimes an album is waiting for you and you aren't ready for it. I feel like SMiLE has been waiting for me for 20 years and I've never been ready for it. My guitar teacher told me about it when I was 15. I think I've given it a few goes in the time since. Today is the closest I've been to being ready for it. When I put it on this morning, it sounded better than it ever had, any hangups I felt before seemed to have disappeared. I'd always preferred this version of Good Vibrations, the version on this record is probably one of my favourite songs of all time. But everything on this record hits. Its all of a similar standard. The ideas and musicianship are incredible. It feels like a wonderful childlike dream. I wish I had got deep into it when I was first told about it. I have such a soft spot for the Beach Boys album Holland and Pet Soinds is Pet Sounds. This album goes right up there today. I think its a 5, and if it isn't a 5, it's a future 5 because its fantastic

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Thu Feb 22 2024
5

Brilliant. Love the beach boys, love Brian Wilson.

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Mon Jan 03 2022
4

Love those Brian Wilson harmonies!

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Tue Jan 18 2022
4

The sound of one acid casualty revisiting losing his mind. It's curious to wonder what would've happened to music if he'd managed to complete it during the first attempt. Best Tracks: Heroes and Villains; Surf's Up; Good Vibrations

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Tue Jan 18 2022
4

It's a beautiful album, and I appreciate it so much for what it represents: Brian's triumph over past traumas and a return to his best creative self. A lot of songs and arrangements remind me of They Might Be Giants. He's such an impressive and influential artist. I love to see him being fun, quirky, and oddball in his lyricism, it pairs so perfectly with all of the playful instrumentation.

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Tue Feb 08 2022
4

4.5 - It seems like every one of his records post-Pet Sounds comes with a litany of caveats and disclaimers about the record's originality and authenticity. I'm going to assume I'm listening to a finished record as the artist intended it to be released because I can't be bothered to dive into Brian Wilson's messy backstory. So all that aside, I loved this record! I hear the labor of a tortured artists trying to create something multi-layered and inspired. The flow on this record is top-notch - it leads me on a pleasant journey both between songs but also within songs that often unfold into separate sections. There's so much playfulness, some good and some goofy. On the good side are tracks like "Old Master Painter / You Are My Sunshine" that incorporates an old spiritual into the mix. On the goofy side there's "Cabin Essence" that has some weird vocal back-up ("doing doing...").

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Tue Feb 15 2022
4

Such a fantastic album. It's funny that this is our 1001 albums of the day, on the same day when Godspeed You! Black Emperor's famous lost album officially released. Love both of them.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
4

Heavy on the slide whistle, but definitely the spiritual successor to Pet Sounds. I said it about that album: “Brian Wilson has a time machine.” Enjoyable.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
4

Un bon album de wilson, je dois reecoute car jai bien aime ce que j’ai ente du 4

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Mon Mar 21 2022
4

I prefer the smile sessions version of this, but it's still very good. Gotta commend the fact this got made in the first place. Favourites: "Heroes and Villains", "Cabin Essence", "Surf's Up"

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Mon Mar 21 2022
4

Weird, but good. Pretty sure it works best as a whole piece, given the songs all meld together. I would love to have more time to listen a few more times through

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Tue Mar 22 2022
4

Brian Wilson is a universal treasure xxx

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Tue Mar 29 2022
4

Rock muy a lo Beach Boys. Un 4.

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Thu Mar 31 2022
4

there was some good vibrations in this one

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Thu Apr 07 2022
4

Love Brian wilson. Not quite as good as pet sounds

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Mon Apr 11 2022
4

I like beach boys but I’ve only herd a best of album and pet sounds before so I’am looking forward to seeing what they ( well Brian Wilson) took so long working on… Our prayer starts off the the album just as a little bit of humming prayer like music makes sense as an intro. Gee is a very short bit at the end of prayer ,as it should, sounds very beach boys. Hero’s and villains us really enjoyable with how sonically distinctive each part is other than multi part song I’ve never herd such variety. But i do vaguely remember this one. I love the drumming at the start at roll Plymouth Rock also I like the change for the chorus and the bridge bit is good. Barnyard is alright for what it is but it’s just super short. But it works into the small small instrumental old master then the depressing cover of you are my sunshine. Cabin essence is another one without such great verity between the different parts which I love and it’s great for ending the first ( of 3) parts. The backing vocals are great and the that subtle trumpet makes wonderful a good listen if its not one of their best. It flows perfectly into song for children actually quite a childish sounding in the verses then the chorus just sounds depressed ( which isn’t a problem). Then child is the father of the man is fairly weird in the chorus but i like it especially the piano work and the trumpet at the end. Surfs up is truly a favourite of mine now it’s just so fascinating and I like it’s one of the slowest beach boys songs. I’m in great shape starts off the final part it’s alright its just a lead into the slow cover of I wanna be around and then the short workshop to end this three piece mini tracks. Then workshop leads into a separate track vega-tables quite an odd one probably my least favourite “full track” as i don’t like the “ wa, ha’s” in the background and the lyrics are very filler. On a holiday is a nice piano track with some filler but still good lyrics and the closing moment is great flowing into… Wind chimes has these great orchestral moment and the piano bit bridging these parts, but i’am not huge on most of the song. Mrs o Leary’s cow is a great piano led instrumental which has a good intro then it spirals off into this stranger part being intriguing but not a re listen for me. The downtempo start of in blue Hawaii swoops in then builds up to a piano section which is cool then it gets much happier only to be met with great strings and horns near the end. What hasn’t been said about good vibrations? It’s definitely the top track and a solid closer to this album i can’t say what hasn’t said before so i’am not gonna say anything. Overall I enjoyed the album but with that many tracks it felt a bit too long and without good vibrations the final part would be a really huge quality drop.

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

A fast-paced, epic record from music icon, Brian Wilson. This concept record's tracks seem to blend into one another, there are some great songs on here, though it's a bit of a jumble at times. Not really a big fan of the Beach Boys, but enjoyed it and glad this finally got a real release!

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

sonic genius on this lost gem... not sure it is masterpiece on a pet sounds level

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Mon Apr 18 2022
4

7/10. Like Pet Sounds, except this album actually has some pet sounds in it.

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Tue Apr 19 2022
4

I've always heard comparisons between the evolution of the Beach Boys to that of the Beatles, but never really dove into their discography to find out why since the singles I knew I wasn't super into. This album really illuminated those comparisons, and taking those hits and really building on the musicality of it while making each song flow into the next shows how strong Brian Wilson is with crafting a piece of music. Really enjoyed this and opened my eyes to the band, can't wait for more of their albums to show up on this project.

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Sat May 14 2022
4

Holy cow, I don't even know how to talk about this album. You'll never catch me driving down the road, Smile blaring from my windows, but it's really cool. It feels a little like a hodgepodge mess initially, but every inch of this is deliberate and kind of wonderful. Beautiful arrangements, wild sonic experiments, and a sense of humor on top. The symphonic elements are gorgeous, and I love the musical threads that wind through multiple songs, which is really brilliant. This actually did make me smile. Fave Songs: Heroes and Villains, Good Vibrations, In Blue Hawaii, Vega-Tables, On a Holiday, Wind Chimes, Child Is Father of the Man

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Sun May 15 2022
4

Rock muy a lo Beach Boys. Un 4.

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Tue May 17 2022
4

That wonderful period of pet sounds

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Fri May 20 2022
4

Complex and ambitious. Lovely layers and motifs connecting the album. Maybe a touch bloated/overbearing but the ambitious vision and good vibrations makes this a strong 4.

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Wed May 25 2022
4

Solid studio sorcery with a wacky back story! Fave track - "Good Vibrations" is obviously iconic. "Vege-tables" is another fave!

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Wed Jun 29 2022
4

It is how I expect the Beach Boys sound. It is not bad, but a little tired and not surprising in any way.

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Wed Jun 29 2022
4

I love the history (damn near mythology) around SMiLE, and this is probably the closest we will ever get to having the original vision be realized. And it's good! But still, in some places it does feel unfinished or inadequately realized. However, it also feels like a final breath of relief to settle the whole thing, as well. Cathartic, I imagine.

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Mon Jul 18 2022
4

There was a lot of Beach Boys on in my house growing up so I'm probably a little partial here. Though never any solo Brian Wilson. I really enjoyed the opening from Our Prayer / Gee to Heroes and Villains and I think that kind of hooked me. It's a little strange of an album, but in a good way. If you listen to it a few times, you really appreciate how it all blends together. Pull out a song here or there and yeah, it's going to be meh, especially because the lyrics can get pretty childish. But stay in any one of the three movements and it's pretty cool (and really try to ignore the lyrics in movement three - downright silly except for In Blue Hawaii and Good Vibrations). Not a classic, but neat concept and all the moving parts are executed pretty well.

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Thu Aug 04 2022
4

Amongst some of the great "what could have been" musical events of the 20th Century, Smile exceeds its expectations simply by finally being created. One can wonder what would have happened had Brian Wilson been given the encouragement and the proper support needed to see Smile through and gave the world its "teenage homage to God" in the year of Sgt. Pepper and Surrealistic Pillow. Instead, all that was showcased was blueprints and scattered songs across their later discography and visions of the supposed masterpiece that never came. Good thing Brian finally found the courage, support and care necessary to finally bring this monument to it's most complete structure; for its existence does bring about a smile amongst this listener. Favorites: Heroes and Villains, Roll Plymouth Rock, Cabin Essence, Wonderful, Song for Children, Child is the Father of the Man, Surf's Up, Vega-Tables, Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, In Blue Hawaii, Good Vibrations.

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Wed Aug 10 2022
4

Stuck it on repeat all day and listened to the original sessions and Smiley Smile. I like the grandiose scope of the project but don't feel like it achieved what it set out to do at all. The modules seemed to break up the quality rather than add texture. For me, part of the joy of the forms that he's working in is their simplicity so this treatment just feels fussy. Great orchestration and 'Good Vibrations' is near perfect. These recordings sound every bit as rich and warm as the originals to my ears despite the presence of no original Beach Boys beyond Brian, so this version to me is a success. Finally, if you're trying to stake a claim as a genius, move away from the siren whistle.

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Thu Aug 25 2022
4

I liked the soap opera style of the album. It benefits from not knowing the back story and listening as a standalone piece of work. Heroes and Villains is the standout track. I was left feeling happy that something positive came out of what sounds like a very negative creative process going back over the years. Smile...

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