Since Wilson himself was previously the most opposed to SMiLE appearing in any form, it's a considerable shock that this new recording justifies even half of the promise that fans had attached to it. Everything that Wilson and his band could control sounds nearly perfect. Every instrument, every note, and every intonation is nearly identical to the late-'60s tapes; one has to wonder whether vintage hand tools weren't acquired for "Workshop" and Paul McCartney wasn't flown in to add chewing noises to "Vega-Tables.
There has been much hand-wringing about the detrimental effect of hype on rock and pop music. But no manufactured pop single or media-darling indie album can hope to match the hype preceding Smile, which has been going on not for weeks or months, but for 37 years. It was the Beach Boys album that was supposed to revolutionise pop music, to dwarf even its predecessor, Pet Sounds.
Let's face it – it’s an almost universal truth that when an artist attempts to revisit the past the results are doomed to, if not failure, at least disappointment. This holds true for musicians, filmmakers (George Lucas' Star Wars revisionism is a fine example), any creative person. The impulses, influences, inspirations and circumstances have changed since the original endeavor, and recreating those is not only impossible but foolhardy.