The Beach Boys may be one of the most annoying bands in the history of music. Their surfer sound has room for about 2 kinds of songs. The slow kind. And the fast kind. Boy did the Beach Boys use those formulas to the max. To clarify, I love the Beach Boys! I really do. It’s just. You simply cannot listen to them over and over again. Once about every three months will do ya.
But not Brian Wilson. You can always tell when you’re listening to a Brian Wilson written song. His Beach Boys songs were always the golden ones, the stars, the ones you could actually play every other day without wanting to kill your self. His album, Smile, is no different. It is intricate and different and complicated and fun if all of those things together are possible. In all honesty though, what album called Smile wouldn’t have a little of all those things? Because isn’t that what a smile is made of? (There’s a little wisdom for you to spread throughout world, free of charge). Brian Wilson just makes memorable music. His voice is magical to say the least, and his creativity is really un matched by any musician of his era. I think I can safely say that the harmonies on this album are the absolute best I have ever heard. And its such an abstract album anyways. The vocals are very exploratory, with a lot of scatting and different sounds made through the mouth that aren’t always like singing. He uses an orchestra of horns on most songs that back those vocals extremely well. Not to mention his great lyrics that usually have nothing to do with anything else on the album. One of my favorite tracks is called “Vega-tables” which is strictly about vegetables and such. Random to be sure, but genius none the less. As great as all of that sounds, Smile took me quite a few listens to finally let it engulf me and let me appreciate it for what it is. I hate to say it, I had to read Metacritic’s review of a 97 to make me go back and give it one more try. Because my dad tried to make me love it. Boy did he try. He went through a Beach Boys phase, lasting approximately a month of non stop Beach Boys playing. I almost killed myself, so when he got into his Brain Wilson phase, I figured nothing could be worse. So with my bias, I never fully appreciated the genius of Wilson. Yes, I hated listening to him a little less than normal Beach Boys stuff, but in my childhood I never really understood the reason. But I came to my senses eventually and I even went and saw the Beach Boys this past summer. I sat and listened to that surfer rock for 2 and a half hours just to hear Wilson sing one line. And when he did Hero’s and Villains. It was a golden moment. And now I can go back and listen to Smile whenever I want and appreciate Brain Wilson’s genius, because frankly, he can’t get enough.