Artist: Brian Wilson
Album: Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin
Label: Walt Disney Records
Release: Tuesday, Aug. 17. It's out.
Rating (Skip, Stream, Buy): Skip
On "Our Prayer/Gee" from his finally-released album Smile in 2004, Brian Wilson and company knock listeners back with a wall of meticulously harmonized, a cappella pop gold. On Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, the Beach Boys mastermind fishes out a slice of pop's cherriest pie with "Rhapsody In Blue (Intro)" for a sometimes-a cappella rendition that is as flat as "Our Prayer" was burning with anticipation. Sadly, it epitomizes an album that, although working with some of the finest installments in the American Songbook, delivers no critical exploration of the canon.
The record--rife with excessive instrumentation; an orchestra alongside his usual large ensemble--sounds more like the score of a musical than a rock record. The result is glossy "reinventions" that come across more like over-thought covers. "I Got Rhythm" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me," sound like they were recorded by a rigid, well-paid Beach Boys cover band, and "Summertime" is overdone with strings and harmonies in every direction. He could have done more for these songs by stripping them down.
What was always more compelling than what came out of Wilson's mouth was what was going on inside the man's brain. But on Gershwin, Wilson shows none of the imagination or masterful execution that he's capable of.