The Beach Boys
Smiley Smile


4.5
superb

Review

by Burning_October USER (9 Reviews)
May 29th, 2010 | 22 replies | 10,983 views


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bizarrely brilliant

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

It's easy for the actual music of an album like Smiley Smile to be overshadowed by the history surrounding it. Released as the follow up to Pet Sounds, one of the most influential pop albums of all time, the Beach Boys had quite a bit to live up to, and their plans were ambitious. They were crafting an epic opus of an album, one that would push the pop music landscape past where Pet Sounds had left it one year prior. One that would cement the Beach Boys as one of the worlds premier pop bands. That album was called Smile, and unfortunately, due to a number of reasons I wont get into here, it all fell apart. Eventually Smile would be released in a somewhat-final form by Brian Wilson himself, but in the meantime all the public had was some demos and the album that was released in Smile's place, Smiley Smile.

It is a truly bizarre disc, a collection of songs and short interstitular recordings united only by their complete, utter, and sometimes inexplicably dedication to being strange. Most of the songs take the form of strange experiments; theres the dark "Woody Woodpecker Symphony", which wraps the bands twisting, wordless vocal harmonies in spare instrumentation and ambience. She's Going Bald clatter's through jazzy melodies, bizarre lyrics, and horror movie piano all in less then 3 minutes, and Wonderful takes a simple pop ballad base, and twists it up with whispered vocals and high pitched harmonies.

There are a couple of full, straight up brilliant pop songs here, namely opening number Heroes And Villains, and of course the classic Good Vibrations. The former kicks the album off with apblomb, a careful blend of brillaint melodies and intricately woven vocal's that recall some of Pet Sounds better moments. The latter is pop perfection, the sole surviver of the original Smile sessions, and a good indicator of what that album would have sounded like. It is simply brilliant, a symphony of melody and orchestration, all condensed into 3 and a half minutes of pure genius.

These two songs alone are worth the price of the album, but the brilliance of Smiley Smile is how it takes every strange, ill-fitting piece of music it holds and makes it all work. All the songs here have a kernel of brilliance in them, and it shines through fantastically. Even something as short and initially off-putting as Little Pad contains some absolutely incredible melodies to it, and every strange twist the songs take (see Wonderful's strange, spoken-over breakdown) somehow work. It's a strange listen, but oh is it ever worthwhile.

So go get a copy, and relish in one of the most bizarre, underrated, and simply brilliant albums of pop musics history. Smiley Smile can be a strange listen to get through, but The Beach Boys pull it all off, somehow, someway, and if you arent left at least slightly affected by this album, then I would honestly be shocked.



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user ratings (157)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
sunflower2020 (4.5)
Really big surprise by Brian Wilson....


Comments:Add a Comment 
foreverendeared
May 29th 2010



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As far as The Beach Boys go, I've only really listened to Pet Sounds (which is awesome). Good review, you've interested me in the album.

RobotFrank
May 29th 2010



344 Comments


Nice choice for a review and good work.

Mclovin
May 29th 2010



293 Comments


Good review.

"pop musics history"

I'm sure the error need not be pointed out further!

aresx
May 30th 2010



298 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my favorite Beach Boys album

Gyromania
May 30th 2010



15461 Comments


The review is good, but honestly the album art alone would have led me to download it.

a5thdiad
May 30th 2010



123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

don't say brilliant so much, there a more words that would work just as well. but, i agree, totally brilliant record. vegetables and with me tonight are my runner up faves next to villains/vibrations.

have you heard Smile?

AggravatedYeti
May 30th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album is a fun listen, and well, there's "Good Vibrations"


foreverendeared
May 30th 2010



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Listening for the fist time, I'm likin what i'm hearing

londoncalling457
July 23rd 2010



2603 Comments


Great album, especially on vinyl. Heroes and Villains is a work of genius.

foreverendeared
December 26th 2010



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

SO FUCKING GOOD

londoncalling457
December 26th 2010



2603 Comments


some days I like this better than pet sounds, is it ok to experience these feelings?

foreverendeared
December 26th 2010



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I feel the same way, so yes!

londoncalling457
December 26th 2010



2603 Comments


thank god!

bab808
May 2nd 2011



456 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

there are good songs on here, but i really don't see how this is half as good as pet sounds. it sounds incomplete and aimless as an album imo

MeatSalad
December 18th 2011



14419 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is there any point in getting this with the Smile sessions out now?

Digging: Mr. Bungle - California

StrizzMatik
February 13th 2012



3183 Comments


This particular record is one of the bigger cop-outs in music history, really. Pales in comparison to what Smile could have been.

foreverendeared
February 13th 2012



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Stop having opinions.

DavidCKendall
February 15th 2012



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thank you Mr. Reviewer, for your kind and humane treatment of this pop history classic. This will always be my favorite Beach Boys album precisely because of the cryptic strangeness you described so well. There's something sublimely haunting about the whole experience. The detractors can have all the 'theories' they want --critic is the easiest job in the world, especially when you're just shoveling shite! This also, in my opinion, holds together, and has better continuity than Pet Sounds. Definitely a coupla clunkers on Pet Sounds no one mentions, as if God would strike them dead if they dared. I get a shiver and a thrill listening to Smiley Smile; best enjoyed when not compared to ANYTHING! It's one of a kind, and the only recording true to the time and date of it's release. Excellent, well-written review. Thank you!

Tiago1987
April 23rd 2012



31 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A strange delightful album.

ButteryBiscuitBass
November 29th 2012



9877 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That Theremin.



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