As a teenager at her optimum "music age" of sixteen, it's easy to obsess over music. New music that's hit the charts, newly discovered music that your mum had listened to when she was sixteen. Sixteen, sixteen, sixteen. It's a great age. You have so much more of your life to go, so much more disposable income to spend as you wish, so many more albums and bands to discover that will "change your life"... this prospect excites me more than anything else. The possibility of all this music, right at your fingertips! I find that the single reason why life is so unpredictably amazing sometimes.
But there is one band that I will always remember now. Smashing Pumpkins is that band. With every band, they're never perfect. Live, in the media, their albums, the members and the band squabbles are always changing. But the music, goddammit the music! If there's only one album that you could listen to for the rest of your life, this could be the one. For me, it's a pretty close tie between Siamese Dream, Live Through This, Celebrity Skin (both Hole) and Doolittle (Pixies)
Zane Lowe himself, the man of the music on Radio 1, personally my favourite DJ on there (for numerous reasons, mainly because I think he has a passion for what he does more than all of the other DJ's put together) has stated that this album is probably the most played album of his life. Not necessarily his favourite, but most played. There can be a line of difference between the two, depending on how your life swings, which album you go back to always but also which one you might save for the very special moments in your life, so not to become overplayed.
But why should you listen to this album from Billy Corgan and his bunch? Why not Mellon-Collie and the Infinite Sadness or any other? (Equally brilliant by the way, it's just this one is a step up) I'll give you ten quick good reasons why. I want everyone to make their lives more beautiful by listening to this album.
1. Corgan's effortless for the melodies that just come swirling out of this 50 so minutes is astounding. Where do they all come from? The beginning of 'Mayonaise' for example... when did he write this? HOW did he write it? His talent for beautiful guitar lines is immeasurable.
2. Okay, 'Mayonaise' then. That one song makes the album what it is. It's a complete soul healer. It really doesn't get better than this. The fuzzy guitars pull at your heartstrings, the lyrics .. oh, the lyrics: "Try and ease the pain somehow, feel the same/Well, no one knows, where our secrets go" is paired with a powerful almost arm punching realisation... and the perfection lies from where people try to sum up what they're feeling... but they don't quite get there. Amazing. That song always makes me feel like I have the best life ever, that everything's beautiful, no matter when. That there is promise in the music world.
3. High ranges on guitars that WORK. Whether it's fretting on ridiculously high E's... or the low grumbles of guitars on songs like 'Soma'.
4. The Guitar Solos: 'Mayonaise', 'Soma', 'Today'... these solos make you question if there is a higher power of guitar soloists through history that all deserve thrones.
5. 'Today'. My gosh, that one song has been described as "simply one of the best songs ever made" by one Music Journalist (Forgive me, for I know not which one, I read so much lately by many music journalists I only remember their words, and not their names...) I agree. It's about the worst day ever, summed up in one of the coolest verse chorus verse structure ever. I remember in Physics class one day with one of my best friends (also a Pumpkins obsessive) and we tried to DISSECT the lyrics to that song, man. They are intense. But on a weird sense... it's also happy. It tries to speak on a whole new level to those that are perhaps a bit depressed, but saying it points out the better aspects of life would be wrong. They make life seem weirdly cool, with all its lust and ridiculousness but the fact that you shouldn't get too bogged under by its strain.
6. The break in 'Soma'. I watched this song performed live in like the late 90's and when it got to the electric guitar interlude (followed by the jaw-dropping solo) I just started crying. If the music is powerful, if even the bloody chord sequence makes you want to jump up an down and smash things, but simultaneously almost speaking to you so much it makes you shed tears, it's done well. Trust me on this one. The anticipation to that cracks me up...
7. The random piano and string solitudes they put in the album. Whether it's 'Spaceboy' which is just one awesome string melody throughout, or 'Soma' when it's ridiculously quiet and then LEAPS into the grubby sequence mentioned aforehand, they really get at you, man. It almost makes that complete Macho Hair Metal Rock cower in the corner with its tact. The drums are also a huge variation. They go from "Little Drummer Boy" one minute and then another they could be mistaken for Grohlism.
8. The amount of distortion on this album is worth how much you pay. Ok, so you don't like distortion? The album has been worked so greatly that each of these songs can be played acoustically, easily, just like that. YouTube the acoustic live version of 'Cherub Rock'. I want to invent my own dance to that one.
9. Billy Corgan's voice. Nuff said. Even more entertaining when you have no idea of the lyrics and you mimic the poor guy. It's original, I'll give you that.
10. The fact that practically the whole album is tuned half a step down. Ok, even though this annoyed me the other day when I was trying to learn '1979' on my acoustic, it works. Really well. But if you can't be bothered, that's alright too don't you know, just find a version in standard. Simples.
I could go on for decades, but that gives you enough material worth reading to make the decision whether to leap in or not. One more thing: I LOVE THE COVER ART. It's cute, and reminds me of those summer days when you are only 4 and you've got all these wondrous things to come. Fun fact: one of the little girls on the cover is now the bassist in the current line-up of SP. That's one of the reasons I love life. Coincidence!
SO NOW GO BUY OR I'LL GO AND DO A SUPER LONG POST ON HOW MUCH I LOVE COURTNEY LOVE. You have been warned...