• Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Release Date: Sep 28, 2004
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 439 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 73 out of 439

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  1. GeneD
    Sep 13, 2008
    5
    Being less than enamoured with SMiLE, I read many of the reviews here, to get some idea of what it is I am not geting. High reatings seem to be associated with people who just like tha album, for non-specifiic reasons (read personal taste). Low ratings often gave specific reasons which I found in-line with my thoughts and feelings about the album. I have a hunch that Paul McCartney wrote Being less than enamoured with SMiLE, I read many of the reviews here, to get some idea of what it is I am not geting. High reatings seem to be associated with people who just like tha album, for non-specifiic reasons (read personal taste). Low ratings often gave specific reasons which I found in-line with my thoughts and feelings about the album. I have a hunch that Paul McCartney wrote "Fool on the Hill" (listen to the bass harmonica!) for BW, after the mish-mash of Beach Boys music following Pet Sounds (which is quite good), was released. SMiLE is hard for me to listen to - it is an annoying, non-stop assault of sound and ambiguous lyrics that do not even titillate my imagination. Hence, my middling rating for SMiLE. Expand
  2. JoeG
    Mar 9, 2006
    5
    I wanted to love this, I really did. It's from a genius isn't it, one of the great lost treasures of 60's pop! A few of the sequences (Heroes and Villians) are excellent, but I struggled to warm to much else, some of which is positively flaky. I've just sold it on Ebay, and hope the buyer enjoys it more than I did.
  3. markh
    Jun 8, 2006
    5
    greatest album ever. hahahahahahahahahahha yeah right, refund please.
  4. JackL
    Mar 12, 2006
    6
    There once was a man named Brian Wilson; a fragile man who created many works of greatness in the '60s with the Beach Boys. After releasing "Pet Sounds", he began to prepare an album that's greatness would surpass any that ever been released. He worked... and worked... and worked. "Smile" was assumed to be lost forever until one day, 37 years later, it finally saw a release. It There once was a man named Brian Wilson; a fragile man who created many works of greatness in the '60s with the Beach Boys. After releasing "Pet Sounds", he began to prepare an album that's greatness would surpass any that ever been released. He worked... and worked... and worked. "Smile" was assumed to be lost forever until one day, 37 years later, it finally saw a release. It was a breathtaking work of genius and totally kicked Sgt. Pepper's ass. The deranged savant Brian Wilson was finally at peace. The end. Wasn't that a good story? Music journalists certainly thought so, declaring the album one of the best of the year; and even all time. Putting aside the history of the album, however, reveals a mediocre release full of cornball songs about barnyard animals and vegetables. The best tracks of this CD were released years ago, and to be frank, they sounded a lot better in their original versions. The first time I listened to this CD, I hated it, but I've given it another chance and it's growing on me. It still isn't anything truly great, in my opinion. Beach Boys fans and music historians may love it. As for everyone else, move on- there's nothing to see here. Expand
  5. Dale
    Jun 6, 2005
    4
    If you are a fan of BW or the Beach Boys, Smile may (or not) tickle your fancy, but if you are just a casual fan taken in by the critical acclaim it has received from this site (like yours truly), DO NOT PURCHASE THIS ALBUM before listening to it first. It is overrated by any standard and most may find the dated sound and (lack of) song structure rather unpalatable.
  6. hitchynonejusthitchy!
    Oct 13, 2005
    4
    To say I'm disappointed is an understatement!...we've all heard the legend of 'smile', so the anticipation of hearing this for the 1st time was high. Where to listen to it?...I never remember the first time I heard any of the great classics, so I was determined to make this 'hearing' something I'd remember forever. On a long lonely highway, late at To say I'm disappointed is an understatement!...we've all heard the legend of 'smile', so the anticipation of hearing this for the 1st time was high. Where to listen to it?...I never remember the first time I heard any of the great classics, so I was determined to make this 'hearing' something I'd remember forever. On a long lonely highway, late at night, cruise control on, by myself........turned up loud.......man i was salivating as i pushed the CD in.......the result?......oh brian, oh no, brian....please tell me this ain't smile......37 yrs in the making?......sounds to me like you just got a whole heap of lyrics & musical snatches, chucked 'em in the blender & recorded it in the order that they came out....oh Brian, no! Expand
  7. GraemeH
    Mar 28, 2005
    5
    Did they put the wrong CD in the case when I bought this? I bought based upon these reviews but was disappointed. It's OK but not great.
  8. MichaelV
    Mar 7, 2005
    4
    Comparisons to Beatles Sgt. Pepper. Critics are dreaming. My copy of this is for sale. Very disappointing.
  9. ScottS
    Jun 25, 2005
    5
    Come on people, get a clue. The only people calling Brian Wilson a "genius" are critics. Critics are writers, not musicians. Take this tape to any knowledgeable composer or anyone with an undergraduate background in music theory, and they would laugh at it. Aren't we becoming a little too liberal with the use of the word "genius"? This is nothing more than average music by an average Come on people, get a clue. The only people calling Brian Wilson a "genius" are critics. Critics are writers, not musicians. Take this tape to any knowledgeable composer or anyone with an undergraduate background in music theory, and they would laugh at it. Aren't we becoming a little too liberal with the use of the word "genius"? This is nothing more than average music by an average songwriter (not composer). Decent, and fun to listen to, but no I am sorry he is not one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. Sheeesh.... Expand
  10. ChadS
    Jun 26, 2005
    6
    I'm not purposely trying to be a dissenting voice just for the sake of being controversial, but I'd rather listen to "Let it Shine" and "Melt Away" from Brian Wilson's self-titled album than anything on "Smile", with the possible exception of "Heroes & Villians" and "Surf's Up". If you're a hardcore Brian Wilson fan, you might enjoy the novel "Fuel-Injected I'm not purposely trying to be a dissenting voice just for the sake of being controversial, but I'd rather listen to "Let it Shine" and "Melt Away" from Brian Wilson's self-titled album than anything on "Smile", with the possible exception of "Heroes & Villians" and "Surf's Up". If you're a hardcore Brian Wilson fan, you might enjoy the novel "Fuel-Injected Dreams" by the late James Robert Baker. There's a character that's obviously based on Wilson, and music that is meant to evoke "Smile". Cindy Lee Berryhill also wrote a wonderfully loopy tribute to Brian called "Song for Brian"(from "Garage Orchestra") that's more fun than anything on this disappointing "masterpiece". But god only knows this is a quantum leap in creativity from "Imagination". It is my hope that Wilson would team up with somebody like the guy from The Apples in Stereo with Jeff Lynne as the producer. Expand
  11. CaseyB
    Jun 5, 2005
    5
    I wouldn't call it a disappointment, 'cos it's a pleasant surprise that it ended up seeing the light of day, but SMiLE is definitely *not* a masterpiece, and I'll lay 5-to-1 that most of the people who gave it 10 on this page have already filed it back into their larger CD collection where it remains undisturbed. There are classic tracks here - "Heroes and Villains", I wouldn't call it a disappointment, 'cos it's a pleasant surprise that it ended up seeing the light of day, but SMiLE is definitely *not* a masterpiece, and I'll lay 5-to-1 that most of the people who gave it 10 on this page have already filed it back into their larger CD collection where it remains undisturbed. There are classic tracks here - "Heroes and Villains", "Good Vibrations", "Cabinessence", "Wonderful", even "Surf's Up" if the lyrics aren't too arch for you - but given that they've all seen the light of day before in superior versions, it's not much to get excited about. (Some might argue for these versions, but I'd be interested to find *anyone* who thinks the 2004 "Good Vibrations" is in *any* way an improvement on the original.) Brian Wilson's singing - though better than on other recent BW recordings (and, unless my ears deceive me, rather heavily pitch-corrected) - cannot help but reflect the stroke damage; of course, he's also 35 years older and it would be ridiculous to expect him to sing as if he'd just finished making "Pet Sounds". The instrumentation is strong, if occasionally a little hamfisted. I smell a repackaging of the '67 sessions just around the corner, and suspect that *that* release will be the one that people will choose to remember as "SMiLE". If they choose to remember that it was released at all. The album has a startling lack of thematic unity - it's about, wait for it, the settling of America and the taming of the West, childhood and the elements. Overreach much? It doesn't actually have anything profound to say about any of these topics, and posters here who find it necessary to mock "Sgt. Pepper" (another faux-concept album of the time) on the basis of its "catchy little songs about meter maids" are displaying incredibly selective vision. "Vegetables"? "I'm In Great Shape"? Wilson once said that "SMiLE" was planned to be his "teenage symphony to God", but the notion suits "Pet Sounds" far more. If Beatles/Beach Boys comparisons must be made (and I'm puzzled as to exactly what they achieve), "SMiLE"'s fellow-traveller is the White Album - fragmented, with some moments of gentle beauty and others of apparent insanity. Look, anything's better than nothing from Brian Wilson at this stage, and we're lucky to see "SMiLE" in any shape at all. We're just not quite as lucky as some folks would have you believe. Expand
  12. SteveP
    Jul 4, 2005
    5
    Hugely overrated. I believed the hype ... the missing masterpiece ... the follow up to Pet Sounds. All the hype is rubbish. If the album had come out 37 years ago it would now be considered a very average 60's album with a couple of good tracks.
  13. BrendanD
    Feb 19, 2007
    6
    Before I begin my review, I want to make something very clear: I worship at the temple of Brian Wilson. "Today!" is my favorite Beach Boys record, but, with the exception of "MIU Album," I love everything the Boys did from the early '60s through 1979's "L.A." I also enjoy the Wilson-Paley Sessions, and I even have a very special guilty pleasure song for the sample-heavy Wilson Before I begin my review, I want to make something very clear: I worship at the temple of Brian Wilson. "Today!" is my favorite Beach Boys record, but, with the exception of "MIU Album," I love everything the Boys did from the early '60s through 1979's "L.A." I also enjoy the Wilson-Paley Sessions, and I even have a very special guilty pleasure song for the sample-heavy Wilson rap spectacular/debacle (depending on one's point of view), "Smart Girls." When Wilson first announced he'd be performing "Smile" live, I was ecstatic; when I finally heard a copy of the live shows, I was even more enthralled. Pieces I'd been assembling for years fit together almost, though not quite, how I'd envisioned. "Holidays" sounded magnificent, "Vega-Tables" hilarious, and "Child is Father of the Man" more haunting than I ever would have dreamed. I couldn't wait for Wilson to release the album version, but my hope was that it'd be the concert, much like he had for "Pet Sounds Live." The album, as it stands today, isn't what it should be, and it certainly isn't what it was. In 1967, "Smile" would have been as revolutionary, and perhaps moreso, than the "Good Vibrations" single. But there's a lot missing. First and foremost, the production is awful. That's not to say that it's bad production on Wilson's, or anyone else's, part; rather, it's the wrong kind of production for this type of music. Computer editing works incredibly well for the bands Wilson and his Boys influenced -- acts like the Flaming Lips, the Super Furry Animals, and the Polyphonic Spree --, but left to Wilson, it simply comes off as hackneyed. This is most likely due to rock music's having advanced almost forty years between the original recording and the eventual release of "Smile." However, there's a bigger issue here: musicianship. No, Wilson's voice isn't what it was, but the backing band he's been using on tour is more than capable of picking up the slack on the road. That's fine for tours, but in the studio, these folks aren't capable of the magic of the six Beach Boys and the Wrecking Crew, which recorded most of the Boys' backing tracks in the '60s. There are little changes that don't work as well. The tinny harpsichord from the '60s sessions are replaced by a much more digital-sounding one, and the result makes the sound of "Heroes and Villains" go from a crazy acid trip to a mellow pharmaceutical high, "Wind Chimes" from hauntingly serene to childishly incompetent. No one is able to capture the "You're under arrest" line from "H&V" quite like Denny Wilson did. And most violatingly, the reversion to Tony Asher's lyrics for "Good Vibrations" is an unbelievably bad choice. Although I champion re-upping the "Hum-be-dum" chorus tag, which is among the most beautiful ideas Wilson's ever had, and though I hate admitting it because I dislike the man so very much, Mike Love's lyrics really were better. Finally, whereas "Smile Live" was literally that -- alive --, "Smile: The Album" sounds flat and dead and mundanely average. Wilson is capable of great things, especially with concerts; but this album is a true-blue disappointment. If you really want to get a look at what "Smile" is all about, find a bootleg of the session tapes, and then watch the "Smile Live" DVD; but skipping this tepid recording won't ruin your life or musical experience at all. Expand
  14. daveb
    Jul 21, 2007
    6
    Just listen to Good Vibrations here and then the original, and you should know damn well why this isn't a 10/10 album. The warmth is gone, replaced by an old man and studio singers. Ruminations on the failing of the male ego? Shut the fuck up. It's a nostalgic CD about a dead culture, and teenagers trying to pretend they're all grown up. That is all. It doesn't compare Just listen to Good Vibrations here and then the original, and you should know damn well why this isn't a 10/10 album. The warmth is gone, replaced by an old man and studio singers. Ruminations on the failing of the male ego? Shut the fuck up. It's a nostalgic CD about a dead culture, and teenagers trying to pretend they're all grown up. That is all. It doesn't compare to Pet Sounds at all. Expand
  15. evans
    Dec 23, 2004
    4
    Most of these songs were first released on 'Smiley Smile' via Brother Records in '67 or '68. They sounded fresher, more unique, 37 years ago. Having closely followed Brain Wilson's music for more than 40 years, the current emphasis on his genius is misdirected toward this album. His true greatness can better be heard in several underplayed songs that the group Most of these songs were first released on 'Smiley Smile' via Brother Records in '67 or '68. They sounded fresher, more unique, 37 years ago. Having closely followed Brain Wilson's music for more than 40 years, the current emphasis on his genius is misdirected toward this album. His true greatness can better be heard in several underplayed songs that the group recorded through the mid '70's. Compositions such as "I Can Hear Music", "Time to Get Alone", "Add Some Music", and Sail on Sailor" to name a few, provide much clearer insight into Wilson's greatness, and the unique musicianship of the group. Expand
  16. MikeO
    Nov 6, 2005
    6
    Surf's Up and Good Vibrations are superb, but we already knew that. The versions on Smile are inferior to the Beach Boys. Heroes & Villains is good, the rest is average to weak. What was all the fuss about? This is really the most over-hyped album of all time, yet it is still rates a 6/10 due to the 3 tracks mentioned above.
  17. ACritic
    Oct 6, 2005
    6
    I enjoyed the CD. Some of it. The songs were very unique and experimental, and had very different affects to them. "Our Prayer" was harmonic and bright, "You are my Sunshine" has a very dark sound to it. "Roll Plymouth Rock" was beautiful. Although, some of the tracks (Barnyard, Mrs. O'Leary's Cow), were a miss for me. A real mix I would recommend for anyone to listen to.
  18. AgatheM
    Mar 19, 2005
    5
    It's OK, but what's the big deal?
  19. JohnW
    Aug 3, 2005
    4
    It's ok, but it's a far cry from anything great. It's just an update of the Beach Boys. Nothing new, nothing fresh.
  20. CKbiggie
    Mar 26, 2006
    4
    wanted to like this, but 4 listens later was trying hard to stay awake. the critical fervor is completely baffling... a very mediocre album.
  21. fagr
    Jun 20, 2007
    4
    how did this shit get up here... it seems that when critics see the beatles or the rolling stones or such oldies they feel the obligation to slap a 100 on it. NOT GOOD, put me to sleep
  22. FredM
    May 21, 2008
    4
    I'm a massive fan of the Beach Boys, especially Pet Sounds, and for me they're second only to the Beatles in the revolutionary pop genius stakes, so before Smile came out I obviously waited expectantly to see if it measured up. It doesn't, the people who say it's a 'triumph' and other such words are writing about the album they wanted to hear. The album you I'm a massive fan of the Beach Boys, especially Pet Sounds, and for me they're second only to the Beatles in the revolutionary pop genius stakes, so before Smile came out I obviously waited expectantly to see if it measured up. It doesn't, the people who say it's a 'triumph' and other such words are writing about the album they wanted to hear. The album you do hear is very, very disappointing, I feel like the only sane person in a mad world writing that on here, but that's how I judge this album. Expand
  23. SebastianW
    Dec 15, 2009
    6
    I may just not understand its context, I may just not be enough of a Beach Boys fan, but considering this album takes the throne on metacritic, I find it's simply too counter-modern and envisions its listeners too narrowly.
  24. robertv
    Dec 13, 2004
    4
    I listened to this album about three days ago, and I have no great urge to listen to it again. I wonder how we would rate this album if it DID come out in '67 or '68. It's hard to believe this performance of the songs would be considered better than 'Pet Sounds' or 'Sgt. Pepper'. I notice none of these glowing user reviews has said that 'Good I listened to this album about three days ago, and I have no great urge to listen to it again. I wonder how we would rate this album if it DID come out in '67 or '68. It's hard to believe this performance of the songs would be considered better than 'Pet Sounds' or 'Sgt. Pepper'. I notice none of these glowing user reviews has said that 'Good Vibrations' is better than the original. Maybe I'd rate this a '10' with enough drugs... Beach Boys freaks have already bought this, but the casual listener would be served better by putting this low on your priority list. I far more enjoyed the Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks album from the 90's, "Orange Crate Art". *There* is a cohesive, nostalgic view of a bygome American era. Expand
  25. Illiniq
    Aug 21, 2006
    6
    Belongs right next to Pet Sounds as one of the most critically overrated pieces of work in all Rock and Roll history...silly and in many moments intensely unlistenable... How I wish it had been release in it's own era so it could have been properly assessed as fitting into the Beach Boys body of work just as one thinks of Satanic Majesties for the Stones, Let it Be for the Beatles, Belongs right next to Pet Sounds as one of the most critically overrated pieces of work in all Rock and Roll history...silly and in many moments intensely unlistenable... How I wish it had been release in it's own era so it could have been properly assessed as fitting into the Beach Boys body of work just as one thinks of Satanic Majesties for the Stones, Let it Be for the Beatles, or Nashville Skyline for Bob Dylan. Other than the classics we've already known for forty years (Good Vibrations, Heroes and Villians, Vegetables) the rest of this is just lame, annoying pop pasiche completely unworthy of any "genius" label. Expand
  26. MarkS.
    Apr 26, 2008
    4
    I've always found Wilson annoying, sorry. Probably the most overrated album in history
  27. BenjaminBunny
    Dec 13, 2004
    5
    I just discovered the Beach Boys last year, so I'm no authority, but "Pet Sounds" has become one of my favorite records--an album that I think many would agree has transcended time and still sounds appealingly fresh and accessible. This, on the other hand, sounds about as fresh as a Laurence Welk rerun. On a certain level I can see its "genius"--all the complex vocal lines, I just discovered the Beach Boys last year, so I'm no authority, but "Pet Sounds" has become one of my favorite records--an album that I think many would agree has transcended time and still sounds appealingly fresh and accessible. This, on the other hand, sounds about as fresh as a Laurence Welk rerun. On a certain level I can see its "genius"--all the complex vocal lines, that's why it's a so-called masterpiece right? Because the songs really aren't that great, and frankly, the endless shoo-be-doo-wop woo vocals are just plain cheesy, despite their "brilliant" complexity. Whenever I put this on, I just find myself wanting to listen to The High Llamas' "Hawaii" instead. Sean O'Hagan captured the essence of "Smile" way more listenably than poor aging Brian Wilson has. Even if this had been released 37 years ago, people would still prefer "Pet Sounds," easy. Ugh. Collapse
Metascore
97

Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 29
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 29
  3. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Smile is quite simply the greatest triumph in the history of pop music.
  2. Smile's post-adolescent utopia isn't disfigured by Brian's thickened, soured 62-year-old voice. It's ennobled--the material limitations of its sunny artifice and pretentious tomfoolery acknowledged and joyfully engaged.
  3. "Smile" emerges as a beautiful and cohesive work, at times deeply moving, at others oddly whimsical, at still others eerily disturbing but celebratory. [27 Sep 2004]