Smiley Smile

Smiley Smile

Brian Wilson's work on Smile—the ambitious follow-up to Pet Sounds—had just been scrapped. (That legendary project has since been reconstructed, re-imagined and had its sessions extensively released and studied). Once Wilson came to grips with the fact that his masterwork wasn't coming together, he and The Beach Boys put together this truly weird and charming album at Wilson's home, where the equipment wasn't yet up to professional recording studio standards. The resulting set is low-key, even lo-fi in many spots. Smiley Smile disappointed fans and critics at the time, who were expecting a sort of answer record to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's. It did include "Good Vibrations", which had been a single the previous year. That song was a stroke of genius: a brilliantly inspired moment where Wilson's avant-garde experiments matched his commercial instincts. "Heroes and Villains" turned out decently. "Vegetables" and "With Me Tonight" capture the intricacies Wilson and his brothers could turn out in their sleep. "Wind Chimes" and "Wonderful" take things down to a near-whisper. Smiley Smile now has a cult following.

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