Review Summary: A solid, yet immature debut that sets the groundwork for future Pumpkins albums.
Debut albums usually showcase bands trying to find their sound, and perfect it while getting their name out to the public. While Gish
isn't excellent by any means; that's exactly what it did. Gish
is definately the foundation for Siamese Dream
because the songs on the album are loaded with the heavily-layered guitar work that made Siamese Dream
a classic. There's plenty of excellent drumming, and the James Iha/Billy Corgan guitar duo is as present as ever. While their sound was not perfected in anyway in any of these sections of their music, Gish
managed to be the perfect stepping stone for the band and future fans of the band.
Much to their dismay, the Pumpkins were rightly lumped in with the ever-budding grunge movement led by bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden. Their music was heavy on the guitars, Billy Corgan's vocals were as disjointed and noisy as ever; and there's plenty of Billy Corgan screaming on the record. The Pumpkins seemed just as a band that took the grunge sound and fine-tweaked it to make their music seem unique. But that was oh, so wrong as what the grunge bands lacked was the ability to feature prominent breakdowns in their songs and throw slower epics in their albums like Rhinocerous
. And as time would show it, the Pumpkins flew farther away from the grunge movements with their future releases.
And after a few listens to the album, what seems to stick out to me is the way the songs all use the same techniques and ideas to a point where some of the songs can't be told apart; but even with this minor problem, Gish
is still at its core pure Pumpkins and its plainly apparent with the opener to the album, I Am One
which starts out with a simple Jimmy Chamberlin drum beat that quickly picks up into the typical sounding Pumpkins guitar attack. Billy Corgan comes in singing with his typical whiny, screeching vocals into a very catchy chorus hook. This song was a true showcase of what was to come from this band with later releases. And, while Siva
is a good song, Billy Corgan's vocals are a bit too disjointed from the music and the song isn't very catchy. The typical Pumpkins charm is aplenty in this song, but the song feels like a typical grunge chart-topper. The best song on Gish
comes in at track number three, as Rhinocerous
is slower, but ever yet as powerful as a slower Pumpkins epic. Its in the class with Drown
. The song is especially atmospheric and the lyrics are deep and thought-provoking. The song is my favorite off of Gish
easily; if not my favorite Pumpkins song of the era.
But as the album clicks along, it loses a bit of its luster as Bury Me
is a bit bland, too hard, and the typical atmospheric charm that Smashing Pumpkins are known for is gone because the song doesn't really ever breakdown until the end; which is littered with feedback but manages to turn it into a great introduction into another slower Pumpkins ballad-type song called Crush
, which is actually pretty good; especially for the immaturity of the Pumpkins at this time. The acoustic guitar in this song mixed with the echoing electronic guitar twinges make this song another great one off of Gish
is mediocre at best as the song rehashes the same sounds and effects used on Gish
over and over; as the song sounds a lot like Rhinocerous
is rather catchy, simple, and addicting. The guitar work is about as close to Siamese Dream
as the album gets while the music retains the typical Gish
is another plain-out rocker that's a bit too familiar as it sounds a lot like I Am One
. Window Paine
begins like a mood-setting atmospheric track like Rhinocerous
but picks up into a darker, louder, and heavy climax. Day Dream
is like a psychedelic, ballad sung by D'Arcy Wretzky that manages to be mood-setting and epic because of her wonderfully soothing singing and the violins in the song. But by the end, the hidden song is a bit mediocre as Billy Corgan's voice is distorted a bit too much and the special keyboard/synthesizer effects are all too old and overused.
After listening to Gish
it is apparent that this the Pumpkins introducing themselves to the world; and its best to keep this in mind because Gish
isn't perfect by any stretch of imagination, but the groundwork for future classics. And while their sound isn't perfected, the atmosphere is still there and it still feels like a Pumpkins record. Songs like I Am One
, and Crush
are all great. So, to all Pumpkins fans; this is a call to pick up the Pumpkins' debut record Gish
as soon as possible.
I Am One