Porcupine Tree
Stupid Dream


4.5
superb

Review

by Benjamin Bland USER (14 Reviews)
July 20th, 2009 | 7 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Porcupine Tree become their own band and confirm themselves as the saviours of British prog rock

By 1999 Porcupine Tree had already carved out something of a reputation for themselves as the "new Pink Floyd" and it was easy to see why. 1995's 'The Sky Moves Sideways' followed a near identical structure to Floyd's classic 'Wish You Were Here'. The band's sound combined the classic sounds of British progressive rock with a modern edge. However the band did not have a unique sound all of it's own. 'Signify' may have dispelled some of the Pink Floyd comparisons with it's occasional trip-hop echoes but it was slightly messy, as the first of the band's albums as a full band not just a lone effort by mastermind Steven Wilson. Therefore it was not until 'Stupid Dream' arrived in April 1999 that the Porcupine Tree sound was defined.

This may be somewhat hard to believe on first listening to the album as opener Even Less harkens back to the days of Pink Floyd comparisons with it's slide guitar intro and atmospheric keyboard sounds and textures. It's a fantastic song but was easily comparable to the band's earlier work whereas the majority of 'Stupid Dream' is not. This is still progressive rock but with the aforementioned modern edge. The influence of Radiohead, for example, is apparent throughout and is even referenced in the lyrics to Pure Narcotic; "You keep me hating / you keep me listenting to 'The Bends'".

Furthermore it is clear that the band has tightened up to become a proper unit, albeit still with Wilson's direction. The material present on 'Stupid Dream' is more ambitious and yet more accessible than ever before. The band really rock for the first time with some great riffs present on both Piano Lessons and instrumental jam Tinto Brass. The bass driven Slave Called Shiver meanwhile is more similar to the material on 'Signify', except it is executed slightly better, and gives bassist Colin Edwin a chance to shine. There are poppy moments too, Piano Lessons is an instantly memorable single and Stranger by the Minute features excellent harmonisation between Wilson and drummer Chris Maitland in it's chorus. For those who prefer their music to be brooding however there is the superb Don't Hate Me, featuring excellent flute and saxophone solos by Theo Travis. There is also Mikael Akerfeldt's Porcupine Tree song of choice, A Smart Kid being a dark and subdued acoustic / piano ballad greatly enhanced by Richard Barbieri's keyboard and synth textures. Closer Stop Swimming treads the minimalist line, inspired by Wilson favourites Talk Talk. It's wonderfully depressing, if that is possible, and one of the highlights of the record.

Overall 'Stupid Dream' is an excellent album with no weak tracks and an excellent level of variety. It's accessibility compared to previous Porcupine Tree albums allowed it to become the band's biggest selling record to date and it is still the best album with which to start journeying into the band's catalogue. One of the great albums of the nineties without a shadow of a doubt.

Essential Tracks: Even Less, Piano Lessons, Don't Hate Me.



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user ratings (1274)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
PuddlesPuddles
July 20th 2009


4787 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very nice review, though it seems a bit short

Very well-written

Nagrarok
July 20th 2009


8316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review. Not too long but yet very informative. This is another excellent PT album, though I like their newer work (In Absentia and onwards), slightly better.

shindip
July 20th 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. Dont like this album that much...

Wizard
July 21st 2009


19644 Comments


Very nice review, though it seems a bit short

There isn't much to say about this record. Quite frankly, it was a boring piece of shit.

The review was excellent even though we disagree with rating. I'm more a fan of In Absentia era Porcupine Tree.

Digging: Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

bodiesinflight57
July 21st 2009


870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Seein as it has an average rating of 4.1 it cannae be that bad...

Jim
July 22nd 2009


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent review for a very good album

sudonym
July 12th 2011


27 Comments


this needs to be the featured



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