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Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

3.99 | 1371 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars 4.5 stars is more accurate

What is it? Porcupine Tree fully embraces melancholic rock and pop music to great results. There are clear Radiohead influences, but Porcupine Tree ensures their identity is not lost.

Voice (4.5 stars) ? Embracing these genres require a strong vocal presence and of course, skill at crafting melodies. Thankfully, Steven Wilson made huge progress as a singer yet is clearly aware of his limitations, keeping a restrained approach and staying within his comfortable range. While the vocals are not very technical, they are very pleasing to the ear, sound genuine, and gives the music added personality. True to pop music, many passages are karaoke-friendly and would be hilarious to emulate.

Sound (4.5 stars) - The direction towards pop music would imply sacrificing quality of instrumentation, but it is frankly not the case here. Yes, this album has less emphasis on instrumental sections compared to earlier releases, but the band sounds extremely tight and hits all the right notes. The sound production is phenomenal ? I consider this album to be the turning point of Steven Wilson as a sound engineer. The drums sound crisp, well balanced, and work very well with the bass lines, which are as fluid and musical as ever. Edwin establishes himself as the best bass player that played with Steven Wilson (just hear that bass line halfway through 'Don't Hate Me', it is simply spectacular. The guitar, while less technical, is highly melodic and also has the right variety of tones needed to match different moods ranging from hard rock to melancholia. They keyboardist continues being a crucial component of the band, choosing atmosphere over pyrotechnics. To summarize, the band shows the right kind of restraint, choosing musicality over technicality. The one time they get cut loose "Tinto Brass", the band still got it!

Song (4.5 stars) ? Pop music can be derivative and formulaic, or it can be a vehicle for deeply personal and/or entertaining music. This album aims for the latter, resulting in a set of fully-fledged songs. The change in genre was also successful due to a surprising talent at writing 'hooks', a requirement for pop albums. Despite the more conventional approach, the aforementioned instrumentation and sophisticated songwriting greatly add to the songs. Last but not least, "Stupid Dream" often sounds personal and deeply moving with a great number of melancholic songs with excellent melodies. The one case where they get lighthearted "Piano Lessons", they deliver earworms. The time they experiment with hard rock "Slave Called Shiver", it rocks really well. I can't mark songwriting as 5 stars because the trio of 'This is No Rehearsal", "Baby Dream in Cellophane" and 'Stranger by the Minute' are non-essential with the latter being quite the dud.

Key Tracks: Even Less, Piano Lessons, Pure Narcotic, Slave Called Shiver, A Smart Kid.

Zitro | 5/5 |


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