Porcupine Tree
Stupid Dream


5.0
classic

Review

by marcus_in_absentia USER (1 Reviews)
February 5th, 2009 | 18 replies | 4,202 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A great entry point for potential Porcupine Tree fans, being the album that crafted and exemplified the psychedelic sounds and vocal harmonies that defined the band.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

I'm aware that there are two other reviews for Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream, I'd like to approach the concept of the album this time, and offer my perspective of what it means to me. I'll skip the band bio bit and jump right in, cus all that has been covered in the two other (well-written, IMO) reviews.

Whilst the existence of Stupid Dream as a conceptual album is not explicitly mentioned by Steven Wilson, it is pretty apparent in it's consistency, both lyrically and sonically. This is best felt by listening to the entire album in a single sitting, in track order.

Steven Wilson, in Stupid Dream, creates satire out of our society's commercial and profit-driven habits. Being entire written in first-person, it gives a reflective account of a jaded persona, one that is well aware of the hypocrisy and superficiality of our world.

Straight from the opening track, Even Less plunges the listener into an atmospheric soundscape, with young laughter leading into a short instrumental intro. The lyrics give mention to a certain memory, or hopeful aspiration, but in a jaded light, with the achingly depressing chorus line:

"And I may just waste away from doing nothing,
But I'm a martyr to even less."

The word "martyr" presents the listener with multiple interpretations, being of a sacrifice for one's aspirations, or "Dreams", as would be more relevant here, and also an extreme take on what it means to represent and fulfill a certain order. This ambiguity fits in perfectly with the atmospheric rhythm section wonderfully, creating a dreamy and spacey mood.

Piano Lessons, too, creates a nostalgic atmosphere akin to one looking back at one's childhood, but with the idea of all his hopes being "Stupid Dreams":

"And even though I got it all now,
My only stupid dream.
I see you and me together,
And how it should have been."

Here, also, Wilson satirises our profit-driven and mass-production habits, dropping hints as to why the persona's dreams are "Stupid":

"I come in value packs of ten
(in five varieties)"

As the album progresses, it's apparent that there is increasing acceptance of the futility of the persona's dreams, with the desperate obsession of Slave Called Shiver to the angry cries of Don't Hate Me.

The high point of the album concept, for me, is A Smart Kid. Here, Wilson paints a beautifully melancholic picture of the persona waking up to a dead world, only to find himself communicating with "a spaceship from another star". With a haunting rhythm section driving Wilson's heavily layered psychedelic vocals, A Smart Kid projects the culmination of the persona's "Stupid Dream", ending in a desperate plea for hope:

"I tell them I'm the only one
There was a war but I must have won
Please take me with you. "

This hope, as the listener will realize by the last track, Stop Swimming, is never realized. Instead, we are greeted with a painfully depressing acceptance of our world, where, very aptly put lyrically:

"Maybe it's time to stop swimming.
Maybe it's time to find out where I'm at,
What I should do and where I should be.
But no-one will give me a map."

This concludes what Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream conveys to me, conceptually. It's not as in-depth as it could have been with a track-by-track account, but I guess it's best for the listener to extract their own interpretations of the album as a concept.

I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I have writing it.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jim
February 5th 2009



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

some people are gonna be pi[font=verdana]s[/font]sed that you really didn't give a description of the music and other facets, but this was an interesting read tbh

marcus_in_absentia
February 5th 2009



4 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Felt that all those were covered already, and didn't want to regurgitate something that's already been said. :D

Yazz_Flute
February 5th 2009



18735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It was pretty well written, but you probably should have written something about the music other than its "nostalgic." This is a music review site after all.

But I love this album.

Digging: Anekdoten - Vemod

username345
February 5th 2009



594 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is my fav Tree album, especially 'A Smart Kid'.

Mendigo
February 5th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not bad at all, the review - though I think that lyrics aren't the important part of Steven Wilson's work.

Merkaba33
February 5th 2009



702 Comments


i got tired of these guys. i still wanna check this out though.

thebhoy
Emeritus
February 5th 2009



4459 Comments


I don't get Porcupine Tree, I listened to them a bit, and it totally didn't click.

Review was okay for a first. But 1) one sentence # a paragraph. 2) You have some grammar that needs cleaning up, a la

Being entire written in first-person, it gives a reflective account of a jaded persona, one that is well aware of the hypocrisy and superficiality of our world.
. Change it to something like:
"Written in first-person, it gives a reflective account of a jaded persona, one advised in the hyprocrisy and superficiality of our world."

Stuff like that, making your sentences less passive. Same with the sentence before that one. Instead of starting, "Steven Wilson, in Stupid Dream, blah blah blah" say, "In Stupid Dream, Steven Wilson blah blah blah."


McP3000
February 5th 2009



3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album

rasputin
February 5th 2009



14504 Comments


I really dislike this band.

thunderzstruck
February 5th 2009



148 Comments


Some of the melodies on this album are very good. I used to absolutely love these guys but now I don't care much for them. Thinking back, I think this is probably the only album I really care for now

botb
February 5th 2009



9284 Comments


the tracklisting made me laugh

"2) Paino Lessons (4:21)"

honestly its not that funny but i cracked up when i saw it.

Digging: Cult Leader - Nothing For Us Here

marcus_in_absentia
February 5th 2009



4 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks thebhoy, I'll definitely keep that in mind for my next review.

Lightbulb Sun deserves a mention (or 10!) as well. Really well-written record. :D

Mendigo
February 6th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"2) Paino Lessons (4:21)"
honestly its not that funny but i cracked up when i saw it.

lol

Skyler
February 6th 2009



1084 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album fucking rules

Altmer
February 6th 2009



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

wicked album

TrojanWhore
February 6th 2009



752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is win, one of my faves by the band.

dannyboy89
January 29th 2012



7828 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is my fave PT album!!! :D (I still need to hear Signify, Up the Downstair and On the Sunday of Life. Not to mention The Incident).

Digging: Agalloch - The Mantle

dannyboy89
February 11th 2012



7828 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Heard all their LP's, and this is definitely their best.



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