The 1993 sophomore album by the Smashing Pumpkins is often named one of the best albums of the 90’s. And after listening to it again I can’t help but agree. This is when the band makes a name for themselves and they have found their sound (at least for the next two albums). This album is full of great songs that have become classics today.
The album opens with the awesome “Cherub Rock.” It has a great build up that leads into the infectious guitar riff. The singing here is pretty mellow, which matches the flow of the song. There’s also this great guitar solo that has a touch of the psychedelic in it. It’s one of the best songs on the album and it’s the perfect way to begin the record.
The next song “Quiet,” has a great play on opposites going on. While the title of the song is “Quiet” the song is actually quite loud with more excellent guitar work by James Iha and Billy Corgan. There’s a great build up to the wild solo with rapid fire drumming before launching into the guitars. It’s also cool how the guitar seems to mock the melody of the song towards the end. Though album starts off with fast, loud guitars and beats not all of the songs follow that formula.
Probably the best slow song on the album is “Disarm.” It has a dark, creepy feel to it especially with the toll bells clanging throughout the song. Also, the lyric “A killer in me/is a killer in you” gives off an unsettling vibe. Despite how dark the song may be it’s actually very pretty. Mid-way through the track violins begin playing along with the guitars and it swells during the chorus creating this beautiful mix of classic and modern music. This mix makes the song epic, especially when the music keeps getting bigger and bigger.
While all of the songs are good, a few of the slower ones start to drag on and become boring. Songs like “Mayonnaise” and “Luna” are pretty and maybe even sweet, but they are not songs that grab your attention. And I don’t say this because there are no epic solos or distortion in these songs. They are just easy to tune out, especially since without looking at the lyrics it may not be easy to decipher what is being said because the singing is so soft. I’m not sure if the issue of the songs dragging on would’ve been fixed if the slower songs were spread out on the album, rather than being clumped together towards the end of the record
One thing that must be said is the guitar work here is excellent. Just about every song has a kickass guitar riff either provided by Iha or Corgan. These riffs get you moving and sometimes they’ll just leave you in awe. The riffs range anywhere from light and pretty (the beginning of “Today”) to in your face and wild (“Geek USA”). The track that best shows off their skill is “Silverfuck.” It’s starts off with dirty, raw, harsh guitars that just keep getting bigger and more complicated. The guitars here also have a hint of psychedelic flavor to them, which is a throw back to band’s early days. The drumming in this track is pretty amazing too. It’s great to hear the hard, rapid beat isolated for a few seconds.
Overall I give the album 8.5/10. Most of the songs are great and even the slow ones that may get boring are still pretty good and are at least tolerable. It’s definitely one of the band’s best albums and it contains some of their greatest songs. This is album still holds up to this day and doesn’t sound dated or tired like other albums from this time.
What’s your favorite track from this album? What do you think about the record? Is it one of your all time favorites or do you think it’s overrated? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.