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Friday, October 8, 2004

Like Emerging From The Brink Of Certain Doom
Had forgotten just how unpleasant sickness is. Won't need reminding again for some time.

In The Globe today Alan Niester perfectly summed up Brian Wilson's Smile as "by turns profound, head-scratchingly weird, banal and heavenly." Exactly. For all the Loretta-Lynn-like acclaim Wilson's restored artifact is currently receiving, I can't believe that even the true believers can get through all without squirming, if even just a little at some of Smile's more ridiculous bits. Still, Niester loses me on the final sentence when he says "maybe it would have been better if it had remained the Holy Grail that was never unearthed."

Erm. Alright. It's not perfect, but it's tough to argue that for Wilson and his devotees alike this was all better left unsaid. Though I will probably always suspect that Wilson was pushed into it by his handlers (their motivations possibly pure and good, but maybe not), Smile is likely the album Wilson needed at this point, but personally and creatively (go ahead, listen to his last solo record - dare ya to get through that dreck). The results, on the whole, are really quite wonderful. The kind of record some of us probably need right now.

Which makes it just about the exact opposite of REM's Around The Sun. Yipes. Actually, Double Yipes. Have you ever heard a band sound so... so... tired? I don't even think it's that they've run out of ideas. I mean, most bands really only get by on a couple. They're really just doing what they've done any number of times before. But minus any degree of passion, conviction or... well... life. "As if the air had been sucked from the band's lungs," as The Guardian said.

But we're all a bit tired these days, no? There's a case to be made - and a column to be written probably - that REM have just made the quintessential album for life in the fall of 2004 (especially for those of us within earshot of this never-ending saga).

Just saying.

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