Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Gettin' in Over My Head

For the Beach Boys mastermind, now 62, the endless summer seems to have ended

Only diehards--and there are a lot of them--believe Brian Wilson can still sing. In the vocal, he's labored, bombastic and pitch-challenged, far from a boy and not much of a man. It's not the cameos by Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Elton John that make this an improvement on 1998's atrocious Imagination, but the absence of schlock-rock collaborator Joe Thomas. Whether bigging up New Orleans R&B or bowing toward Nelson Riddle, Wilson's orchestrations have some juice. But from the bald I-have-survived of "How Can We Still Be Dancin'" to the lost fun-fun-fun of "Saturday Morning in the City," the lyrics are embarrassing. And the only time the old Beach Boys harmonies take off is the only time Wilson doesn't overdub them himself.

Blender, Aug. 2004