My Favorite Albums: #93 The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siamese Dream”

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13 Abr 2009, 7:40

I’ve started listening to The Smashing Pumpkins a lot more lately; largely do a friend of mine that is obsessed with them. I had always liked them but I hadn’t given their albums a great deal of thought. Now I’ve seen them live twice, finally heard all their albums and own most of them. The Smashing Pumpkins rise above those that debuted around the same time by simply being different: they use sonic excess and complicated lyrics, rather than the bluntness of grunge.

Siamese Dream is a good example of how far Corgan can push things for his vision. Combining any style he feels like, he makes alternative music what it is meant to be rather than a catchall term. A song like “Cherub Rock” or “Geek USA” fit what we would normally think of from the genre, with their distorted guitars and pounding drums. But these hide a sophistication in Corgan’s ability to write a hook like the chorus of “Cherub Rock” with is interesting vocals or an interesting solo that “Geek USA” possesses that takes both technical skill as well as interesting tonality.

Then you have a track like “Luna” the album closer, and a perfect one at that. The wahing lines sound almost psychedelic, bringing thoughts of the sitar. “Rocket” is in a similar vein, lyrically reminding of veiled drug references and far out space themes that followed in the wake of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. We also have the softer songs like “Disarm” and “Spaceboy” which push Corgan’s vocals to the front in all their nasal glory. “Disarm” is so arresting in the almost pain in the way it sung, enhanced by the dirge bells in the background. “Spaceboy” is especially marked by the rise of orchestration towards the end, making it very powerful. And “Soma” which is so epic in its musicalality, rising and falling into its sweet sighed end. It is a beautiful song.

I could go on and on about the songs. “Today” is a classic. “Hummer” is a whirlwind of effects with good duel guitar sound. “Mayonnaise” is a very interesting listen and a good showing of Iha’s work. “Silverfuck” is my least favorite on the album, because I don’t think the riffs are as good as the other songs in that styling on the album. “Sweet Sweet” is a romantic sounding song and makes a lot of its short running time.

My favorite part of any Smashing Pumpkins album is the lyrics. Along with Jimi Hendrix, I feel Billy Corgan is the best lyricist, evoking such vivid pictures with his words and painting honest emotions. Take “Disarm” draws a lot of anguish and I find myself among Corgan’s words. It is hard to describe why I like the way “Soma” and “Sweet Sweet” make me feel, but they do. Add Butch Vig’s top notch production and you can’t help but think this is a great album.

Favorite Track: Disarm

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