This Is A Masterpiece? Not In My Book…

Feb 6, 2004 (Updated Feb 7, 2004)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:That fuzzy guitar soud; handful of great songs

Cons:too many forgetable songs and a few really bad ones

The Bottom Line: The good outweighs the bad by just a little bit, but I still will never understand how the word masterpiece and Siamese Dream can be uttered in the same sentence

Man, It’s really hard criticizing such a universally celebrated, “classic” album like Siamese Dream without sounding like an a**hole, but I just have to say it. This is NOT a masterpiece.

First, the good. This is an improvement over the mostly forgettable Gish. There’s more of an emphasis on pop hooks than its predecessor and most of the time the soundscape is very epic sounding. The production is thick and full of that trademark Pumpkins warm, fuzzy guitar tone that I love and the baselines are muddy and buried in the mix.

Cherub Rock starts the album off on the right foot with it's driving repetitive riff that, in all its simplicity, is still effective. This band gets lumped into the grunge category often, and if there is one Pumpkins song that I would call grungy, Quiet would be it. Its murky, buzzing, rumble of a riff is one of the highlights of the album and it has a pretty damn catchy chorus to boot. The next song Today is another highlight. It’s a great pop song, what more needs to be said? Hummer starts with a quiet and distorted middle eastern riff then lures you in, first with a low rumbling baseline, then a simple, fuzz-heavy riff creeps in that can be hypnotizing when in the right mood. Then you’re hammered with a another, heavier riff until things get calm again for the first verse. A great opening for a good rock song, but more an example of Billy Corgan’s soundscaping talent then his song writing talent because the riffs by themselves aren’t very memorable, but when added on to each other one by one it’s a pretty cool effect.

Unfortunately the album gets a little shaky after those first four songs. Rocket sounds like a less memorable rewrite of Today, and Disarm is an insult my ears. The dramatic acoustic chords, clichéd strings, xylophone, and what the hell are those echoing drums for? They just sound like they’re trying way to damn hard to pull my heart strings, and without one memorable musical moment why should I have to listen to Billy crying and squealing his way through this mess of a song. The Smashing Pumpkins need to have something interesting going on in the music so attention is taken away from Billy’s ear piercing vocals, if not, a bad song like Disarm just becomes unlistenable.

Soma starts as a nice quiet ballad, but the cheesy, hair-band, power ballad execution of the’ “climatic” ending is laughable. And if Disarm wasn’t bad enough for you try Geek USA, and bland, irritating, metal dirge. Is this supposed to rock? I’ve written better riffs in my sleep. Thank God Mayonnaise is just around the corner. That calm, beautiful, intro sounds heavenly next to that utter crap I’ve just endured from the last song. It eventually turns into a romantic arena rocker with some neat little feedback squeaks that sneak up every once in awhile. And Billy’s voice isn’t annoying in the least bit here!

From here on out most of the songs are acoustic and pretty, but nothing that stands out as better than average. Except for one forgettable metal song, Silverf*ck that goes on forever without anything happening. It has some cool drums for a little bit though.

The bottom line is, a lot of these songs are so generic and boring, it makes me wonder how Siamese Dream and masterpiece can be uttered in the same sentence. Come on…there is no way a song as craptacular as Geek USA could be on a “masterpiece”. I'm not arguing that Billy Corgan is not a talented songwriter, he just didn’t have enough talent to make an album that was an engaging listen all the way through at this point in his career. But I’m probably in a very small minority who thinks that, so don’t let this mediocre review stop you from getting this album. If you like that early 90’s “alternative” sound you’ll probably love this. But if your looking for impressive songwiting with some consitency, Siamese Dream doesn't deliver.

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