Too old to hit the highs, Brian Wilson pines for the eternal image of Pet Sounds (1966) -- youth as a paradise lost. There's a frog in his throat. His influences are integral; he uses the music of his childhood to bop the present. By spatializing the "wall of sound," by stunting the rah-rah-cis-boom-bah, he opens it up. Also, the music is 95% blues-free. The mid-rhythms are based on the bass guitar.
Both messy and coherent, SMiLE is a spliced-up toybox full of diverse feels. It's warm: a pop tour of Americana; acid Disney. Almost every Beach Boys album is nourished by it, in terms of music and hype.
The complete SMiLE is new to us, but it's familiar -- and timeless.
2004-10-14 - Jack Cormack