Feature

The Beach Boys: The Smile Sessions

Brian Wilson abandoned this project in 1967, but what he managed to get on tape will leave listeners “slack-jawed.”

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This is as close to a definitive version of the Beach Boys’ unfinished masterpiece as we’re likely to ever get, said Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune. Band leader Brian Wilson abandoned this project in 1967 because of group infighting and his own high standards, but what he managed to get on tape will leave listeners “slack-jawed.” The songwriting is imaginative, the group’s “vaunted multipart vocal harmonies” create collage-like effects, and the instrumentation pulls in everything from “French horns to harpsichords.” Wilson recorded a simplified Smile in 2004, and presents 19 songs here in the same sequence. Multidisc versions of Sessions, filled with studio outtakes, are also available. But the core album deserves the most attention, said Noel Murray in the A.V. Club. Smile may never be truly complete, but this is “wonderfully close.” It retains all the “youthful, experimental” texture of its time.

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