Picks and Pans Review: Siamese Dream

updated 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Smashing Pumpkins

This psychedelic pop masterpiece is one of the most important rock records of the year. These four antihero Chicagoans speak volumes about the misbegotten, the disenfranchised and the emotionally distressed. Their generation's battle cry is not "Stop the war," or "Save the whales," but rather "Life's a bummer/ When you're a hummer/ Life's a drag."

Lead vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Billy Corgan's visits to the psycho-couch for self-evaluation allow the Pumpkins to probe emotional depths while pummeling you with grungy guitar riffs, then rescue you with a delicate acoustic-guitar arpeggio. And often they do it all within the same song.

After its schizoid intro and thick guitar mantra-riff, the diminished, cascading guitar outro on "Hummer" sounds like a junkie finally nodding out after a tough day scoring on the street. The druggie feel continues in "Soma" (with guest piano by R.E.M.'s Mike Mills), which begins as a dream-journey ballad that is abruptly disrupted by a wall of loud, ugly, demanding guitars.

Butch Vig, who produced Nirvana's Nevermind and coproduced Gish, the Pumpkins' '91 smash debut album, also lent a hand on this subtle, refined, multilayered work. If you like rich textures, circus-freak song structure and unglued lyrics, step inside the Smashing Pumpkins' tent and check out Siamese Dream. (Virgin)"

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