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Wilson finally makes fans SMiLE

Becca Saunders | Wednesday, October 27, 2004

To fans of the Beach Boys and 60s music in general, “SMiLE” is a newly discovered treasure – a time capsule from another era of music. But for the fans of current hits, “SMiLE” will probably just seem weird. Brian Wilson, former member of the Beach Boys released the long awaited album this fall after touring with the material in the beginning of this year. The album may have come out this year, but it sounds like it is from 1966.Called the American “Sgt. Pepper” by expectant fans, “SMiLE” was expected to be proof that American music could be just as unique and enlightened as the British musicians of the time. While this is probably not true, the style of “SMiLE” certainly is similar to that of the late work of the Beatles, but with a Beach Boys twist. “SMiLE” has received much acclaim upon its release. However, this critical acclaim is just that – the appreciation of music critics. While there is definite merit in that, for the average music fan who is not familiar with or necessarily a fan of much of the work of the late sixties, “SMiLE” may pass over with a ripple, not a riptide of appreciation. Virtually all of the tracks are interesting musically, but as far as enjoyable listening, “SMiLE” lacks any really distinctly memorable songs for the average listener. Some tracks such as “Good Vibrations” and “Surf’s Up” sound vaguely familiar and are tracks that actually feature a good deal of lyrics as opposed to instrumental experimentation. The lyrics are often clever throughout the whole album. “Song for Children” asks, “Child the child, Father of the Son. Where is the Father, Son.” This track is followed directly by “Child is the Father of the Man” which proclaims, “Child-the child, Father of the man.” Definite play on words surface throughout the album. The only problem for the modern listener will appear in that actual words are not extremely common throughout “SMiLE.” That said, the instrumental experimentation is fascinating and compelling at times, making it arguable words are not necessary for such sections. Another highlight of “SMiLE” is “In Blue Hawaii” which begins slowly with Wilson asking, “Is it hot as hell in here, or is it me? / It really is a mystery. If I die before I wake, / I pray the Lord my soul to take my misery- / I could really a drop to drink. / Somewhere in the placid pool and sink. / Feel like I was really in the … PINK!” This is then followed by a more upbeat melody, with Wilson singing just as absurd lyrics. The overall tune is relaxing and really does convey a feeling of sitting on a beach in Hawaii. “SMiLE” has been anticipated for years as a milestone album in American music history, and it probably is. However, unless one has a seasoned appreciation for the late work of the Beatles, these “Good Vibrations” will not be viewed as grossly impressive. Wilson is a terrifically talented musician, and the sheer novelty of the disappeared album being released is enough to allow the album success. Unless “SMiLE” has been a dream waiting to happen for the listener, the album is not altogether terrific.