Sweet New Finals Week Arrivals, pt. 1/3: Siamese Dream

It’s Buzzfeed’s favorite holiday of the year, American University’s finals week, and everywhere stress is high and morale is low. Except in the music library. Because to fight the gloom of finality we have not one but THREE sweet new arrivals this week! They will each be showcased in three separate posts throughout the week.

Today’s Sweet New Arrival is none other than the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1993 masterpiece Siamese Dream. While the Pumpkins would eventually move on into even more ambitious territory (Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, the band’s commercial peaking follow-up, was a sprawling, 2-hour double album), Siamese Dream was where all of frontman Billy Corgan’s rage and vision crystalized perfectly into a definite and defining sound.

Imagine if My Bloody Valentine figured out how to write good pop songs, Dinosaur Jr. learned how to record professionally, and the two had a baby. You’d get this album. It is a monolithic, perfectly-produced explosion of guitar. This is what makes it both a quintessential early ’90s album as well as a timeless work of art. Its sound is ferocious but lush, hyper-distorted but gorgeously melodic. Corgan’s anguished whine, always a point of contention among haters, nevertheless sounds at home here, floating through the many layers of brutal guitar. And of course Jimmy Chamberlin, an impossible drummer, builds up the immense guitar load without strain. His trademark drumming, whether in persistent tattoos (“Cherub Rock”) or jaw-dropping fills (“Geek U.S.A.”) cements him early in his career as one of the best rock drummers of all time.
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Each song on this album boasts hook after perfect hook, whether vocal line or guitar riff, over endorphin-inducing chord progressions and irresistible dynamics. “Today,” “Cherub Rock” and “Mayonaise” are perfect examples of Siamese Dream‘s triumph in expressing beautiful pop melodies and forms through harsh instrumentation. Longer guitar workouts such as “Hummer,” “Silverfuck” and “Soma” (the latter with one of the best guitar solos I’ve ever heard) showcase Corgan’s incredible talent at building a grudgingly psychedelic atmosphere. Quieter moments such as the string-laden hit “Disarm” and touching closer “Luna” provide a break from all the noise, although maybe not from the intensity. There is not a weak track, and every moment on this album reaffirms its status as a landmark album of alternative rock, a perfect expression of the genre’s musical potential. Now 20 years old, it still sounds as good or better as any rock album before it and any rock album since.

So come on down and take a break from your final stressings with a true wonder of an album.

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