Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (1993), 7/10

Siamese Dream stands as a quintessential nineties alt rock album that continues to captivate with its outstanding songwriting and use of both harsh and graceful noise. It presents a singular flavor of sonic euphoria achieved through a combination of distorted guitars, gritty vocals, and an unapologetic embrace of noise, particularly with Corgan's guitar work borrowing from shoegaze. The album effortlessly blends catchy, accessible hits with harder-hitting dreamy grunge tracks, creating a depth of sound that is both accessible and immersive. The allure lies in the band's ability to evoke a range of emotions through bittersweet and harsh soundscapes as each track offers a unique sonic experience, from the driving energy of "Cherub Rock" to the introspective and haunting melodies of "Disarm." The diversity in sound, characterized by the interplay of melodic sensibilities and distorted guitar-driven intensity creates something both easily identifiable within the context of the era yet also very clearly timeless. This enduring quality has made it a staple in many music lovers' collections; I personally return for a listen any time I need a palette cleanser. I always keep a copy in my car's CD player, pretty much since its release. The way the songs seamlessly flow into one another creates a consistent and immersive, yet impressively varied listening experience that stands as a testament to the album's staying power. Siamese Dream provides consistently catchy hooks, yet a range of emotional depth consisting of anger, love and luxurious bliss. It's pretty funny to consider that Smashing Pumpkins were at one time proclaimed "the next Nirvana" after Gish, which is not just silly in retrospect but also considering their debut's sensibilities. Gish is also a fantastic record in its own right and extremely impressive considering the band's immaturity, but Siamese Dream clearly took their sound in a more complete, individual direction. It presents a cohesive project that displays strengths of each bandmember, particularly Corgan of course, but also Chamberlin's percussive virtuosity stemming from his background in jazz becoming apparent very quickly. The recording taking place in Marietta, Georgia adds a personal flavor to this intimate set of songs, appropriate for a record stemming from very obvious emotional turbulence in Corgan's personal life and past. It deserves its seemingly endless praise for raising the bar in rock music during the 90s and providing a new roadmap for creativity in the scene.