Gish – Smashing Pumpkins

SmashingPumpkins-GishRelease Year: 1991

Rating: 7.5/10

I was never a die hard Pumpkins fan, but I liked them well enough. Over the years I found some of their music, especially their later material, a bit pretentious. What’s great about this album is that attitude doesn’t come through here. The album still sounds as fresh and intriguing as it did 23 years ago. While there are some tracks that slow down the pace, it’s still an impressive LP and easy to see why people went nuts for it when it was first released.

The album begins with hit after hit after hit. “I Am One” begins with a steady drum build up followed by a foreboding bass line and impressive guitar work by James Iha. It’s a rushing blend of psychedelic and hard rock that gets you pumped for the rest of the LP. The wicked guitar solo unleashed before the end really makes the song and reminds you how talented the band was. “Siva” is one of the best tracks with it’s sleek, sexy, hypnotic riff matched with Corgan’s hypnotizing vocals. It gives off a ’60s rock vibe; you can imagine flower children dancing to it. There’s a sonic shift during the bridge where everything slows down presenting the listener with a light, mellow tone before everything comes roaring back to life. It’s still one of their best songs.

“Bury Me” and “Tristessa” are both hard driving songs steeped in psychedelic influences. The first song has this scratchy, unpolished sound to it that finds Corgan matching his vocals with the high pitched guitar riff, while the latter track is like an acid trip in musical form. There are a lot of slow, softer songs on the album. While they’re all good, sometimes it really drags out the pace of the album, especially when they come one right after the other. One of the best slow tracks is “Rhinoceros.” The music is dreamy and pretty making you think of beautiful landscapes to get lost in. The chorus of “She knows, she knows” is not only catchy, but makes it sound like Corgan is putting the listener in a trance. At the end, the music turns up slightly giving it a final punch.

“Suffer” is another song that sounds trippy and even has an exotic flavor to it thanks to James Iha’s guitar playing. Also, the way Corgan sings “Will you wait? Yes I will/I will wait for you/To cleanse your life takes more than time/Take what you want/Take all of it” suggests spiritual connotations of the song. It’s a lovely track to get lost in, but only if you’re in the right mood. Though they sound good “Crush” and “Snail” are almost painfully slow. Even the singing is drawn out on both tracks. At least the former is kind of sweet since it’s a confessional love song, but again these are mood songs, not something you listen to when you want to unwind or rock out.

The closing track “Daydream” is aptly titled as the entire thing sounds fit for day dreaming. Here, bassist D’arcy takes over vocal duties making it a memorable tune. Her voice does sound a little weird and warbly, but it works really well for the song. It’s begins simply with her vocals and an acoustic guitar until the cello is introduced after the second verse. This turns the song into something beautiful and fantastical, a hint on what they would do on their later releases. The hidden track “I”m Going Crazy” follows right after and makes for a sonically intriguing experience as Corgan sings about going crazy while thumping on a tambourine. It’s a whimsical way to end the album.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. There is no doubt this is a classic release and remains one of the band’s best. There are tons of great, energetic, and timeless songs here that are still fan favorites. The amount of slow tracks here drags the pace of the record. Even though they are mostly good, some drag on too long, especially if you’re not in the mood to hear songs like that. Still, it’s a great album and shows why the Smashing Pumpkins are still considered one of the best bands of the ’90s.

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4 comments

  1. I am/was one of those hard Pumpkins fans…just last night I was going through my old stuff in boxes trying to find some magazines I’ve saved all these years with Billy Corgan on the cover. I didn’t find them, yet. “Daydream” is one of my favorite Pumpkins songs for sure, and most people still haven’t heard of it even if they’re kind of into the band so it’s cool you wrote about it. I didn’t care much for Zeitgeist, even though I tried to like it. However I LOVE the crap out of Oceania. That’s the first Pumpkins record since Machina/the Machines of the God that sounded like The pumpkins to me and I didn’t like ALL of Machina either. Oceania is excellent so if you haven’t heard it I recommend it. It’s very much like old Billy Corgan but where he should be at now, and is. I was pleasantly surprised…I could tell right-a-way as I listened to the first single “Violet Rays’ is was the old sound back. Good post.

    1. Hey thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, I tried out some of the Pumpkins’ later stuff and just couldn’t get into it. I’ll have to give Oceania a listen. A few people have told me it’s pretty good. That’s cool that you have old magazines with them on the cover! I have this obsession with old magazines…I have a bunch of Nirvana that I’ve collected over the years. Something about Daydream is just awesome….it’s so subtle, but hits you in all the right ways. It’s one of those songs I kind of forgot about until I reviewed album.

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