The Smashing Pumpkins
Siamese Dream


5.0
classic

Review

by SiameseInfinity USER (2 Reviews)
May 24th, 2012 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Billy Corgan's 'Dream' comes to fruitition with the help of Butch Vig. The result: the Smashing Pumpkins introduce themeselves to the world with a firm handshake and a cannon full of powerful well thought-out songs.

The 1990s will be remembered for some questionable trends – Baywatch, Pogs, curtained hair and Hanson etc. but thankfully the birth of alternative rock overpowers these atrocities. That and Pokémon. But in all seriousness, the 90s produced bucket loads of exciting classic albums for the lost youth of the decade’s early years to embrace. The Chili Peppers injected the world with the sleazy funk of ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’, Pearl Jam crooned their way into the mainstream with ‘Ten’ and then there was that Nirvana record, we all know about that story though, so ‘Nevermind’ that. One of the brightest musical lights of the 90s however came in 1993 in the form of a thirteen-track LP named ‘Siamese Dream’.

From day one, the Smashing Pumpkins were determined to avoid turning into a clichéd rock and roll group, but upon the release of just their second album, they had already ticked half of the boxes of a stereotypical dysfunctional rock band. The recording of ‘Siamese Dream’ was hindered by depression, drug addiction and an inner-band breakup, which makes it all the more impressive that they produced such a positive and cohesive sounding record, especially since head-Pumpkin, Billy Corgan is famously reported to have switched to control-freak mode and played all the guitar and bass parts himself, despite James Iha and D’arcy Wretzky being both competent musicians. Despite these setbacks though, Siamese Dream vastly improved on their attention-drawing debut ‘Gish’, and catapulted the Chicagoan outcasts into the big time.

A couple of drum rolls open the album up with a sense of urgency until Corgan barges his way into the song. It is from this point on that he and mighty drummer Jimmy Chamberlin duel to outdo one another at their respective instruments for the rest of ‘Cherub Rock’. Not only is it the perfect opener, but ‘Cherub Rock’ (the first single released from the album) also hints at what to expect from the other twelve tracks on offer: fuzzy electrifying riffs, powerhouse drumming, candy choruses and euphoric guitar solos. Just two tracks later we are treated to ‘Today’ the universally-known bittersweet tune penned by the singer at a particularly suicidal time in his life that pushed the Pumpkins onto television screens worldwide. In this, Corgan showcases the type of genius song writing Robert Smith made his name with, where one can turn a bleak or downright depressing topic into a perfect pop song, with the help of it’s adorable clean guitar intro. Other landmarks include ‘Rocket’ - a mid-tempo floating of a song, climaxing in Corgan’s relatable vow of ‘I shall be free’ and the emotional acoustics of ‘Disarm’ another hit single in which Billy exorcises the demons from his past of being abused as a child.

Running through the album, the sound which meets the listener with each track is of a very consistent nature, which the title quite neatly embodies. Despite the ironically unrelenting ‘Quiet’, the rollercoaster of ‘Geek USA’ which features one of Chamberlin’s greatest drum tracks, and the apocalyptic chaos of ‘Silverf**k’ the whole record manages to maintain this (for want of a better word) ‘dreamy’ vibe. Layers upon layers of guitars drift through the songs; each feeling like audible furry cream, to transform ‘Siamese Dream’ into one of those classic albums where something new is heard upon each listen, thanks largely due to master producer Butch Vig, who flawlessly realised the sound of the album Corgan yearned to make . But however loud the Pumpkins turn it, each song acts as a fresh cold side to a bed pillow to rest one’s head against and swoon. That is not to say the album puts one to sleep, quite the contrary as moments such as the intense soloing of ‘Soma’ that follows after it’s lullaby-like first three minutes can induce guitar-grabbing and serious note-bending whether you own a six-string or not (with accompaniment from guitar wanking faces, an air guitar will do just fine). The point I’m trying to make is that even the album’s thunderous snare assaults from the aforementioned insane ‘Geek USA’ or the feedback whirrs from ‘Mayonaise’ sound perfectly pleasant to the ear and can feel like a warm teddy to cuddle up to even upon first listen. Whether the same can be said for Corgan’s at times testing whine for all is open for debate, but he places it carefully into the equation in such a way that even if one’s skin crawls at the sound of him straining on the word ‘Hoooney’ then it can be easily tolerated due to the superiority of the music present. Tracks such as ‘Sweet Sweet’ and ‘Spaceboy’ with it’s grand mellotron float on by to balance out the rock present on the album with the soft and ahem, sweet, while amazingly preventing it from dipping in quality or momentum whatsoever. Finally ‘Luna’ rounds the album off with a sitar-tinged slice of romantic melody tailor-made to be sung to girl or boyfriends the world over with the same conviction and gentleness that Corgan impressively musters.

If I had to recommend just one track for you to judge the album on, I would tell you to listen to ‘Hummer’. It has it all, the rolling bass intro, Chamberlin’s solid renowned hands, fuzz-filled guitar riffs, soaring vocals, and the most beautiful two minutes of music possibly in the Pumpkins’ entire discography, complete with simple but poetic words and gorgeous delayed guitar. But as a whole, I think Corgan and crew should be applauded for defiantly setting out and succeeding in creating such a bright, dazzling and dreamy soundscape in a time where most bands competed to be the angriest and the unhappiest. Rock albums haven’t come as close to a dream since.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
Sirob
May 24th 2012


2653 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah man this album is pretty good

MUNGOLOID
May 24th 2012


4305 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review. been meaning to check out the remastered version of this.

SiameseInfinity
May 24th 2012


20 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks very much, this was my first review so feedback is appreciated. Personally i don't really notice much difference on the remastered version, however i do recommend getting the boxset, it has some great b sides and rarities, awesome live dvd and an insight from Billy into the album.
X

Graveyard
May 24th 2012


5730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good job at reviewing my favorite band of all time

Digging: Sugary Sweet Machines - Controlled Breathing

random
May 24th 2012


2262 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Cherub Rock" and "Today" both rule.

WashboardSuds
May 24th 2012


5010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fucking rules

Digging: Gas - Nah und Fern

mvlamborghini
May 24th 2012


16 Comments


A good first review, and yes, this album is brilliant.

JViney
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2012


322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good call on Hummer. Always felt that song has been overlooked as one of their key tunes.

SiameseInfinity
May 24th 2012


20 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks peeps! I'll probably try my hand at the rest of the pumpkins' catalogue soonish.
X

JViney
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2012


322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Do Adore. Completely underrated and neglected by both fans and casuals alike.

WashboardSuds
May 24th 2012


5010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hummer is one of the best things on here

SiameseInfinity
May 24th 2012


20 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Aw tell me about it, i don't know why Adore gets the awkward rep that it does, its such a beautiful album. Yeah i feel hummer is quite an underrated classic, and its been probably my favourite song on here since my first listen.
X

sideburndude
May 24th 2012


2782 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review. This has to has to be one of my very favourite albums.

Lakes.
May 24th 2012


27750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

awesome stuff, although i might prefer mellon collie

Digging: Arthur Russell - World of Echo

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
May 24th 2012


50380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

More like Siamese Cream am I right

Digging: Viper the Rapper - You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack

Lakes.
May 24th 2012


27750 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

more consistent, but also less diverse. mellon collie has a few "meh" songs, (love, take me down,
tales of a scorched earth), but most of it is pretty damn tight. both are fivers though so w/e

KILL
May 24th 2012


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

SCREAMorphine
May 26th 2012


1752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fantastic first review and amazing album. I like the way you singled out Hummer.
One of my favourites.

SiameseInfinity
May 28th 2012


20 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks so much, my friend!
X



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