Recorded and released at the height of “grunge,” 1993 was the perfect time for the Smashing Pumpkins to unleash Siamese Dream upon the world. I didn’t own the album until August of 2001, at the age of 18, quite seemingly the perfect age for one to hear and process its rage.
The Pumpkins often get a bad rap for the over-the-top, haughty, egotistical claims made by their main-man, one Billy Corgan. (My favorite Billy Corgan quote of all-time: “In my world I was like Michael Jordan. I could go to the hoop every time if I wanted to.”) I’m pretty sure that I don’t like Billy Corgan. But I do love his music.
“Cherub Rock,” with its rolling intro of churning distortion, would come on the radio often during the years I spent washing dishes at Terre du Lac Country Club, its angst always inducing me to turn the radio up to full volume. The same thing goes for “Today,” which sounds like it’s a really happy song; after all, it’s all about how “today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.” It sounds so sweet. But it never had me fooled: “I wanted more / than life could ever grant me / bored by the chore / of saving face / today is the greatest day I’ve ever known / can’t wait for tomorrow / I might not have that long.”
I can’t ever say enough about how this album sounds. Corgan used a modified Big Muff pedal (I think he added delay) and Jimmy Chamberlin is one of the most amazing drummers ever. “Geek USA” is probably Chamberlin’s defining moment, with snare hits that could split mountains, captured full-on by producer Butch Vig (yes, the same guy who produced Nirvana’s Nevermind and made Dave Grohl sound like a god, and then resurrected the Foo Fighters on Wasting Light).
“Mayonaise” was and is one of my favorite songs. It’s more subdued than a lot of the others, but still retains the loudness. “Sweet Sweet” is like the ugly child of “Today,” once again sounding sweet, while quite unabashedly saying “sweet sweet sweet / sweet little agony / I don’t know just where you’ve been / but I’ll take all that you have for me.”
But Siamese Dream wasn’t meant to be some sort of lacy love letter. The only truly sweet moment is the album’s closing song, “Luna,” with its ending round of “I’m in love with you, I’m in love with you, I’m in love . . .”
The Pumpkins would go on to release albums just as good (referring to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, of course) but they would never produce an album so hard-hitting ever again, no matter what Billy Corgan might say.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Author: Ryan King
Ryan King began covering music in 2004 for the Arrow, the student newspaper at Southeast Missouri State University, eventually becoming Managing Editor at that publication. He is also the former Music Editor for OFF! Magazine, an alternative publication published by the Southeast Missourian. Ryan began writing for The Music Universe when launched, but has stepped away to focus on law. He may appear from time to time for reviews.