Brian Wilson did not want to include “Good Vibrations” on the album but was over-ruled. This was probably a good decision as it fits well here and 41 years later it is difficult to imagine Smiley Smile without it. “Good Vibrations” forms a foundation around and against which the other songs flow.
“Heroes and Villains” is a mellow, understated song in the style of “Good Vibrations.” While it does not have the dramatic high soaring quality of “Good Vibrations” it still is very creative. “Heroes and Villains” would become a hit in its on right reaching number 12 on the national charts.
Smiley Smile contains some other highlights as well. “Gettin’ Hungry” features an innovative use of a keyboard sound as the underpinning of its structure. Brian and Mike share vocal duties and would release this song as a single under heir own names at a later date. “Vegetables” is a tad weird at first listen but is saved by the harmonies which branch off in odd directions. “Wonderful” and “With Me Tonight” feature lead vocals by the increasingly confident Carl Wilson. “Wind Chimes” is another song that requires multiple listenings. The song meanders and flows until it finally coalesces into a satisfying conclusion.
Many people consider Smiley Smile to be an album of desperation. I disagree with that assessment. While it may have been hastily assembled at the end, the production of many songs are on a par with anything the Beach Boys ever produced.
In the final analysis we come back to understanding Smiley Smile and that can be a lifetime’s journey.