The Smashing Pumpkins
Gish


4.0
excellent

Review

by Justin Swope USER (84 Reviews)
December 24th, 2012 | 43 replies


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Gish is an ambitious rock album that showcases Billy Corgan's scrupulous songwriting and the band's capacity for greatness.

When talking about the most definitive bands of the glorious 90s, it's almost impossible to go without mentioning the Smashing Pumpkins. Headed by Billy Corgan, the Pumpkins harnessed a stylized, punchy rock sound that became distinctly their own. On their debut album, Gish, the band captures the most visceral and vehement elements of songwriting. At times, this record is heavy and ear-splitting, and, at other points, it is delicate and tactful. Gish is an all-around great album with a fine balance between soft, dreamy ballads and thunderous rockers.

For the band's first effort, Gish is surprisingly layered and controlled. It is on this record where that recognizable "Pumpkins' sound" begins to form. Corgan's voice is not immediately pleasing, but it perfectly matches the tone the band is exhibiting with their forceful guitars and grimy production. While there certainly is variety in the volumes of their songs, most (but not all) of the heavier moments are packed into the first half of the album, which makes the second half feel slightly short of breath at times. Nevertheless, Corgan sounds more meticulous and sensitive as a songwriter when the Pumpkins expose their softer and more tender side. However, even the more subtle tunes have that extra push that elevates them above a typical dream pop sound.

There are moments in which the LP flows beautifully and times where the record feels a bit lopsided. Nonetheless, the best sequence on Gish comes with the journey from "Crush" to "Snail". "Crush" is the first song on the album where the Pumpkins restrict themselves to a more hushed and pacifying sound with ethereal guitars and a whispering bass. The band then transitions nicely into "Suffer", another relatively quiet but deeply sorrowful track. With controlling lyrics such as "All of your struggles beneath your disguise drink from the reasons that hold you alive", the Pumpkins embrace an underlying tension in their music but conceal it with unadulterated instrumentation. Finally, on "Snail" the Pumpkins burst out of their shell once again as a contemplative into gives way to an outburst of multiple guitars and Corgan's strained vocals.

Gish is laden with elements of metal and psychedelic music, and the band presents plenty of clever ideas through these styles. One of the best rockers on this LP is "Siva", a raucous track with a killer riff and spectacular drumming from Jimmy Chamberlin. "Siva" also has a few nice surprises tucked into its weighty exterior, like the brief charming intervals in which the noise comes to a grinding halt and Corgan lowers his voice. On the one-two punch of "I Am One", the guitars take center stage with some immensely solid solos. Just as the Pumpkins know when to tone things down a tad, they also know when to free themselves and let the amplifiers do the talking.

Gish's production keeps the LP sounding refined. The Smashing Pumpkins constantly push their sound to the breaking point, but they never sound extravagant. With a high degree of finesse in their composition, the band approaches each track carefully. Tracks like the dense and captivating "Rhinoceros" serve as suitable representations of the band's future sound. What makes Gish so enjoyable is its open-mindedness, its attention to detail, and its appreciation of tight song structures.

While Gish has its minor shortcomings, the tracks on here present a valuable glimpse of the blooming rockstars that left an indelible mark on the 90s. From the ear-piercing guitar solos to the swirling psychedelic and ruminative textures, Gish is a diligent musical statement. Back when the Smashing Pumpkins were unripe, they displayed some of their most interesting traits. Filled with ambition and dexterity, Gish is well worth the ride.

Favorite Tracks:
Suffer
Crush
Siva
Snail
I Am One



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user ratings (1032)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2012


50510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Summary is just no
First of all how can you say it's underrated when you gave it the same rating as the majority, and second of all you should probably never say something like "a band that needs no introduction."

demigod!
December 24th 2012


44715 Comments


i guess it's underrated in that no one really talks about it compared to the other two

haven't heard this, probably should check it out some time



Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2012


50510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Either way, saying something is underrated isn't really a summary

demigod!
December 24th 2012


44715 Comments


yeah i agree the summary wasn't good

Chortles
December 24th 2012


17994 Comments


kind of agreed with treb, overlooked is definitely a better word for this

anyway good review though, pos'd. album rules

Digging: Jacaszek - Treny

bach
December 24th 2012


12903 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pos'd. The summary is meh. But, that's not holding the actual review back.

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2012


50510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Gish is an impressive debut that is unfortunately overshadowed by the band's later more mainstream and successful albums"

Not a very good sentence, but something like that I'd say


jtswope
December 24th 2012


2351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

kinda wrote the summary when i was in a rush so i went back and changed it

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2012


50510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review

Sun2Moon
December 24th 2012


103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pos'd. Album rules.

Minus.
December 24th 2012


2680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This and Siamese Dreams are my fav. Sweet review man.

PaddyPooHead
December 24th 2012


367 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

a good review


Liam8VIII
December 26th 2012


90 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pos'd good review, always liked this and Siamese Dream more than anything else they ever did. Crush and Rhinocerous are my favourites from Gish.

demigod!
June 3rd 2014


44715 Comments


yeah this is probably better than melon collie

dannyboy89
June 3rd 2014


12026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Pos'd.

bach
June 30th 2014


12903 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

daydream is the best joint

demigod!
June 30th 2014


44715 Comments


rhinocerous is such a jam

VermTheNedSlayer
June 30th 2014


291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Siva rules hard

Futures
June 30th 2014


11634 Comments


VermTheNedSlayer


Digging: Mock Orange - Nines & Sixes

demigod!
June 30th 2014


44715 Comments


as in flanders?



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