As his second official solo album Imagination is a stronger record than its predecessor. Brian Wilson is singing better and his writing is more assured, filled with gorgeous arrangements that others may replicate but never quite match. Listen closely and it's possible to hear a handful of songs that are startlingly beautiful.Wilson's writing may not be as magical as his '60s peak, but there are moments that soar, from the lovely "Cry" to the sunny choruses of "South America" to the affecting "Lay Down Burden" to the layered, avant-pop "Happy Days."
– All Music
2. She Says That She Needs Me
3. South American
4. Where Has Love Been
5. Dream Angel
7. Lay Down Burden
9. Happy Days
Interview with Sean Lennon
Sean Lennon interviewed Brian to promote the 1998 release of Brian's Imagination album. In this nearly 60-minute interview, they discuss the new album, and about Brian's career in general.
Imagination is a warm, pure re-entry from rock's greatest prodigal son, Brian Wilson. Graduating from the emotive thunder and pathos of his youth, Imagination feels like a musical sigh of relief coming from a man whose life has been anything but easy and good. The best and most convincing proof is in his voice, which has metamorphosed from the harsh, cracked whine of recent efforts, into a smooth, effortless tenor.
The songs too, speak of contentment, comfort, and acceptance. The first song, "Your Imagination," intones his fast-track past on the verses, then turns and embraces the future on the chorus, with cool clarinets and bouncing xylophones laughing along. "She Says That She Needs Me" is a wonderful rebirth of an unreleased 1966 song, with some surprising orchestral maneuvers buoying up the great melody in trademark fashion. "South American" is impossibly catchy in the best sense of the word, with a far lighter feel than the comparably contrived "Kokomo." Following with the dreamy "Where Has Love Been" and the remake of "Keep an Eye On Summer" which feels just right nestled in-between the new songs.
"Dream Angel" is a weaker track, completely contemporary and up, yet melodically bland. The next cut, the jazz-inflected "Cry" is fantastic, showing what a sensitive lyricist Brian can be. "Lay Down Burden" is a standout: tragic and hopeful at the same time, "Let Him Run Wild" is a weaker incarnation than the original, and "Sunshine" surprises with it's sunny rhythms and atypical laid-back attitude.
The album closes with the jarring, autobiographical "Happy Days" which although initially dark and off-putting, becomes more powerful with repeated listenings and ends the album with an air of hope, which is perhaps what Brian intended, and without doubt deserves.