Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.99 | 1387 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars I'm a big fan of this group and I'm enjoying collecting their older albums as I go but I really didn't expect this to be as good as it is. I'm impressed with the leap in the maturity level of the lyrics in particular and Wilson's voice is strong and confident. I'll avoid trying to find new adjectives to describe how cohesively and brilliantly the band performs here because, if you've heard any of their other offerings, you already know how high the quality of their music is. Let me just say that they don't take a back seat to anyone.

"Even Less" is classic Porcupine Tree with its arresting dynamic sound coming straight at you right off the bat. I wasn't sure of what to expect from Chris Maitland but it didn't take long to realize that he is as proficient and powerful a drummer as Gavin Harrison (and that's quite an accomplishment). The song is about dealing with a friend's suicide and the senselessness of it all. Singing "I may just waste away from doing nothing/but you're a martyr for even less," Wilson speaks volumes in just a few words. The understated guitar lead hovering over the pulsating track is first-class. However, the female voice reciting random numbers at the end goes on longer than it should. The perky "Piano Lessons" sums up the theme of the album which is a young person dealing with peers and older people who want to deny them their aspirations by insisting that "there's too much out there/too much already said/you'd better give up hoping." Because of this song I better understand the drab, sterile artwork. In other words, if you want to make CDs, boy, you'd better become a lab technician who literally manufactures them because you'll never be a successful musician. Just give up on this "stupid dream" of yours and "get ready to be sold." To all this the singer smartly replies "Credit me with some intelligence" because he knows what he's doing. Well said!

"Pure Narcotic" is an acoustic guitar song that features a glockenspiel as the only percussion instrument and it is a gem. The singer is in a relationship where the girl wants him to be someone else when they are around her friends and he's predictably torn when he says "I'm sorry that I'm not like you/I worry that I don't act the way you want me to." He feels trapped because he's in love with her but can't (and doesn't want to) change his introverted personality. On "Slave Called Shiver" the band displays their Trent Reznor influence. They lay down a solid funky feel and deliver the most intense rocker of the album. It's about a man with dark, deluded visions of grandeur and a dangerous mother fixation and it is effectively seductive. "Don't Hate Me" is moody and sad but the excellent drums keep it from becoming morose. It's the same guy from two songs before, looking out his window at the city in the middle of the night. He's broken off the relationship he was in. He tried but "I'm not special like you/I'm tired and I'm so alone." He hopes he can stay in touch and "call you on the telephone now and then" but I suspect that he knows that's not going to happen. The flute and saxophone take over with Maitland turning in a succinct drum performance before the tune drops into a dreamy passage that brings to mind a "light snow falling on London." It is excellence. The soft mood is broken with "This is no Rehearsal," a slightly jazzy song that has punkish double-time interludes to punch up the action from time to time. Everyone can relate to being incredulous upon hearing news reports of an ignorant, preoccupied mother who has somehow managed to lose track of her only child in a mall and wanting someone to "interpret this for me!" The low-key, harmony- laced "Baby Dream in Cellophane" is the low point of the album, a somewhat humorous ditty about what's going on in the mind of an infant that is short enough to avoid becoming a drag on the momentum.

"Stranger by the Minute" has a nice groove to liven the pace back up. Most creative people often think of themselves as strange but sometimes they become disturbed and alarmed by the weird nature of their private thoughts. "I'm a twisted boy," the singer laments. "A Smart Kid" creates the perfect mood to portray the loneliness and futility felt by the last man on earth following a chemical apocalypse. There's even an eerie sequence midway through that sounds like he's walking around in his pressurized suit that sends chills up my spine. His hope is to be rescued by a "spaceship from another star." Highly effective. Next up is "Tinto Brass," an instrumental that is a throwback to "Up the Downstair" in nature. It features Theo Travis on flute and has a heavy guitar riff to provide a pivotal change of direction at the halfway point. Great drumming, as well. "Stop Swimming" is for anyone who has ever felt adrift and without direction in their life. Whether it's leaving a relationship or old habits behind, one can relate to words like "maybe it's time to find out where I'm at/what I should do and where I should be/but no one will give me a map." The beautiful aura surrounding the lyrics makes this one of the most poignant tunes I've ever heard. And once again, it's Maitland's drum work that keeps this song from becoming maudlin or cliché.

I am continually amazed at Porcupine Tree's lack of recognition outside the realms of progressive rock. Maybe it's just me and I've found a group of artists that play exactly the kind of music that my soul yearns to hear. I can live with that. If that's the case I hope all of you find a band that reliably puts a smile on your face like these guys do for me.

Chicapah | 5/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this PORCUPINE TREE review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.