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Album Review

As his second official solo album, Imagination is a stronger record than its predecessor. Brian Wilson is singing better and his writing is more assured, filled with gorgeous arrangements that others may replicate but never quite match. That doesn't quite erase the suspicion that it could have been better, however. Sessions with the respected power pop producer Andy Paley were hailed as Wilson's best material in years, though the collaboration didn't happen. Wilson, allegedly on the advice of his wife, decided to work with Joe Thomas, a former wrestler determined to make inroads in the music business. Thomas steered Wilson toward a slick, overly produced sound straight out of the late '80s, filled with sterile surfaces and synthesizers that hide the genuine musical attributes of the album. Listen closely and it's possible to hear a handful of songs that are startlingly beautiful. Wilson's writing may not be as magical as his '60s peak, but there are moments that soar, from the lovely "Cry" to the sunny choruses of "South America" to the affecting "Lay Down Burden" to the layered, avant- pop "Happy Days." Songs such as these, however, accentuate the weaknesses of other parts of the album — namely the lyrics. Such lyricists as Jimmy Buffet, Carole Bayer Sager, and J.D. Souther collaborated with Wilson on these songs, contributing surpassingly banal words, perhaps in an attempt to capture the sweet naïveté of classic Beach Boys songs. They didn't need to try so hard — Wilson can come close enough on his own. All he needs is collaborators that realize that and not force him into areas, whether it's musical or lyrical, that he needn't tread. The best parts of Imagination prove that he can spin enough magic on his own terms.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic album!

I got the CD this Christmas and I fell in love with it. The opening track has some of the most gorgeous harmonies I have ever heard. The harmonies throughout this album are simply sublime. "She Says That She Needs Me" is structured with interesting changes and a soaring melody accentuating the vulnerability. "South American" took some time to grow on me but it's a decent song. "Where Has Love Been?" is a nice gentle song that is very sweet. I especially love the new versions of "Keep An Eye On Summer" and "Let Him Run Wild" which are just as good as the originals. I might prefer the new "Run Wild" to be honest. "Lay Down Burden" is the most gorgeous, yet sad, song I've ever heard. I've decided that I will have it play at my funeral. "Sunshine" is an interestingly quirky fun-in-the-sun song which is great to drive to. "Happy Days" took a load of time to grow on me but once it did, I can't believe the structural genius in contrasting the days of scary mental illness (complete with whispering voices) and the new days of happiness he has found, along with the mindblowing harmonies.
The song "Cry" is my least favorite song. I do feel the lyrics are a bit clumsy and I feel the instrumentation was too heavy on the tinkling keyboards. Besides that, this is a fantastic album.


I love this album especially south american

Just wow.

Brian Wilson is truly one of the greatest songwriters/producers of the 20th century. This album is so well done. Every track has classic harmonies, very melodic, and personal lyrics. Most about loss and heartache, which for Wilson he was always torn between being a kid and mental anguish. Ultimately, if you like the Beach Boys at all, especially the later stuff or for the harmonies, you need this album.


Born: June 20, 1942 in Hawthorne, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Brian Wilson is arguably the greatest American composer of popular music in the rock era. Born and raised in Hawthorne, California, he formed the Beach Boys in 1961 alongside his two younger brothers, cousin Mike Love, and school friend Alan Jardine. Serving as the group's primary songwriter, Wilson combined the rock urgency of Chuck Berry with the harmonies of the Four Freshmen before expanding his musical imagination during the late '60s, during which time he experimented with new songwriting structures...
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