100 Best Albums of the 2000s
Brian Wilson, 'Smile'
The famously un-finished Beach Boys record, begun by Wilson in 1966 as an answer to Sgt. Pepper but abandoned in favor of the less-ambitious Smiley Smile, gets finished in 2004 with help from longtime co-conspirator Van Dyke Parks. Is it the album it might've been 30-plus years ago? Who knows. But it's Wilson's finest solo moment: cascading vocal arrangements, delicious melodies, and letter-perfect orchestral flourishes. A generation of vocal-obsessed indie rockers (Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes) owe him large.
• Rolling Stone's Original 2004 Review