No.5 - Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – 4.5/5
Perhaps slightly misleading, as whilst post-grunge is most certainly a strong influence on this album, this is a unique and eclectic assortment of styles, from the classical to the modern rock, making gratuitous use of violins and acoustic guitars, this is not a band to do things haphazardly. Everything from its tone, diversity, and length screams out in this album of epic proportions.
Kicking off with a blissful symphony comprised of largely a lead piano and violins, this gives a good indication of what can be expected in the tracks to come. The piano plays a minor role, however the violins are often utilised in a simple manner to great effect. The guitar riffs are consistently of a high standard, being delicate, aggressive, catchy, or chaotic as they frantically screech about creating a dissonant and frantic tone. The drums seamlessly transition between sections, providing a constant variety of beats to the piece at hand. And then the vocals, unique in tone perhaps best compared to that of the Creed vocalist, with a ‘screeching’ slant that could easily become frustrating to listen to, but incredibly never does. Soaring passages mixed with deeper grunge tones, the emotion is present, if perhaps not as prevalent as some of the others on the list.
All of these aspects combine coherently to form an epic sound, from the guitar solo’s, addictive riffs, and pounding drums, as you start listening to it every track appears phenomenal. And here lies my main problem, there is only so much brilliance an album can handle, and the tracks quickly begin to decline in quality. This is no short album, over two hours long it all becomes a bit much. The first side of this album is epic in proportions, diverse and filled with idea’s and varying tones. But the second doesn’t add too much to that, with a few notable exceptions. It’s not so much that it feels sub-par, dragging the album down, but simply that it plays like a B-side, a list of tracks that didn’t quite make it, that weren’t adding anything original to the mix.
Everything about this album is epic. Its diversity, its tone, the emotions backing it, even its length, but this is one that should be heard in two parts. As diverse and unusual as it is, keeping focus for two hours is a meaty task. The second CD shows a slightly lower standard to that of the first, but should still be appreciated. How well known this band is I have no idea. All I know is that this is one that fully deserves a place on this list.
Highlights: Tonight Tonight, Zero, Bullet with Butterfly Wings, An Ode to No One, 1979
By T. Bawden