Picks and Pans Review: Wouldn't It Be Nice:
Long renowned for his spectacular work with the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson's appearances since his mid-to-late-'60s heyday have been brief, puzzling and only partially satisfying. So it goes in this musical union with daughters Carnie and Wendy. Family ties aside, it's a strange match—the oddball studio genius with two-thirds of the Wilson Phillips lite-pop act—and for the most part the pieces don't mesh. Carnie and Wendy's tunes are pleasant, if unspectacular, exercises in mid-'90s pop. And of the four songs Brian appears on (he's more of a guest, actually), only "Everything I Need" stands out, mostly because its mawkish lyrics and melody make for such a disappointing reunion with Pet Sounds lyricist Tony Asher.
Wouldn't It Be Nice proves more satisfying. Most of the artists stick to Wilson's progressive work from the late '60s and early 70s and find many jumping-off points for variations in his dark, adventurous melodies. Guitarist-singer Dori Caymmi gives "Caroline No" a breezy Brazilian touch, while arranger Vince Mendoza and guitarist John Abercrombie invest the melancholy "Don't Talk" with a new cinematic grandeur. But what really stands out is the depth of Wilson's post-surfing songs—as complex, powerful and mysterious as the ocean itself. (The Wilsons, Mercury; Wouldn't It Be Nice, Blue Note)