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Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream CD (album) cover

STUPID DREAM

Porcupine Tree

 

Heavy Prog

3.98 | 958 ratings

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progkidjoel
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Porcupine Tree ? STUPID DREAM review

By ProgKidJoel

Porcupine Tree's "Stupid Dream" is heralded by many as the beginning of a new era for the band; it was a massive departure from its predecessor, "Signify", and showed a whole new overall band. Many old-school Porcupine Tree fans hated this album; it's the most commercial the band has ever produced, and shows a massive difference from the previous Space-rock epics fans had come to know and love. Despite this adversity, "Stupid Dream" is an essential piece of the ever-eluding Porcupine Tree puzzle, and is a great entry level album for the band.

1. Even Less:

This is an excellent album opener, and has an incredibly memorable riff. Another amazing Steven Wilson lyrics brings this track to life, and is a genuine sing-along, get stuck in your head tune. Following a basic verse-chorus-verse formula, this is a great track and features some signature Barbieri string effects in the background. Amazing stuff. Closing in a memorable Wilson-esque guitar solo, this track has a heavily climatic closing, and is a great track. Great opener to a good album!

4.5 out of 5.

2. Piano Lessons

A great pop track, this was one of Porcupine Tree's singles from the album, and its not at all hard to see why. Another great lyric, this is another great track; although, it is easy to see why older PT fans couldn't get into/hated this album and track. Following the same basic formula, this is a genuinely great song. Featuring somewhat fooling lyrics, the poetry fits indescribably well with the genius harmony. Partially about the pitfalls of the recording industry, this is a nostalgic track which is a great follow up to Even Less. An obvious single, this track is also worth checking out.

4 out of 5.

3. Stupid Dream

The title track is a 30 second instrumental? Not really anything to be said.

3 out of 5.

4. Pure Narcotic

One of the best Porcupine Tree songs, this also features much more basic instrumentation. Radiohead-inspired lyrics, this rhymes in the typical Steven Wilson way. Another obvious single, this is a truly excellent track. Say whatever you want about Porcupine Tree's most pop album, but you can't deny it produced some of the best written songs of their entire career. Decently depressive lyrics, Porcupine Tree wear their influences on their sleeves in an honoring and never too obvious way. A short guitar solo provides a bridge, and leads into the two exiting choruses, which once again feature some excellent PT high pitched overlay vocals to a brilliant lyric. Its hard to explain this track; whats most amazing about 'Pure Narcotic' is its relative simplicity and evident complexity. A brilliant song, one of the best on the album.

5 out of 5.

5. Slave Called Shiver

Another teenage-angst based song, this features one of Edwin's most memorable basslines to date. Once again, this follows an incredibly simple formula, although this isn't really a problem. Somewhat reminiscent of Depeche Mode, this is a good track, but not great. Featuring another quality guitar solo, this is good, but once again, not great. Worth a listen, mind you. Seemingly repetitive towards the end, it does seem to drag on a little, but never gets boring.

3.5 out of 5.

6. Don't Hate Me

Clocking in at around 8 minutes, this is the longest track on the album. Once again, this track can be quite depressing, but is none the less amazing. Although many would suggest this is the most prog track on the album, it still follows a comparatively basic formula. Carrying into a keyboard-flute solo, this is a present change of pace from the 5 tracks which preceded it. After the flute solo, a great saxophone solo shows another change of pace and a great dynamic. Great drum work from Chris Maitland supplies a lovely texture. The rhythmic section truly shines, aswell as the background dynamic. Closing with a repeat of the chorus, and a truly excellent guitar solo, its easy to see why this track has become a fan favourite.

5 out of 5.

6. This Is No Rehearsal

Back to the pop-prog rock feeling which this album relates so well, this track also follows the basic song formula. Lovely acoustic guitar and soft drum work make this track memorable, and so does its mid section, harmonizer-bar intensive guitar solo towards the end. Decent, not great, but decent, lyrics work well with the harmony to make a solid track. This mid section is the best part of this song, featuring the guitar solo I talked about before, a complete change of rhythmic pace and some nice keyboard chords. A good track!

4 out of 5.

7. Baby Dream In Cellophane

Much more reminiscent of older Porcupine Tree, this is another incredibly solid track, featuring more amazing soundscapes and keyboard ambience. Muffled vocals lead into the chorus of this track, which although very straight forward, purveys emotion en masse in an interesting and psych-rock way. Vocals in this track are layered in the same way that most Porcupine Tree vocals are, but this one also features a lovely rhythm in the vocals and ends with some nice ambient effects, as per usual.

4 out of 5.

8. Stranger By The Minute

Sounding similar to something by Radiohead, this is a very straight forward track, yet still features a signature Porcupine Tree sound, with some more great Steven Wilson vocal and lyrical work. More layered vocals lead this great pop/anthemic rock tune in the chorus, and never disappoint. A lovely natural progression and softened electric guitar work play nicely in the background to an awesome straight up rock track, and another shortened guitar solo fills it out nicely. Another great track on the album, and this track makes it easy to see why this album sold so successfully.

5 out of 5.

9. A Smart Kid

The only song not written solely by Steven Wilson on this album, this is a much more proggy track and helps round out nicely from the track which preceded it. The acoustic guitar riff is settling and unsettling at the same time, and gives off a confusing emotion. More great soundscapes hollow this track out nicely, giving a wide feel and range. The last two minutes of this track are very similar to the band's very own THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS [PHASE ONE], although original. This track features a phenomenal chorus, and equally brilliant lyrics. Another signature Wilson guitar solo helps this one aswell, and a strong drum track does nothing but make it another stand out on the album.

5 out of 5.

10. Tinto Brass

Opening with some non-English dialogue and eerie bass effects, this is by far the proggiest track on the album. This features some great bass work, a repetitious drum beat and nice flute work over the top of this whole? Experimental mess amongst pseudo-pop matter. A nice guitar riff also plays well throughout this track, as does the metronomic beeping of a stereotypical telephone. Towards four minutes, this track reveals what is probably the heaviest guitar track on the another great bass line from Colin Edwin with more fantastic keyboard work from Richard Barbieri. Perhaps the best ambience work on this entire album, it builds up into a wholly climatic feel and good, well rounded ending.

4.5 out of 5.

11. Stop Swimming

A great album ender, this is probably the most depressing track (well, other than DON'T HATE ME) on the album, and features more great lyrics and instrumentation. Eerie atmospheric keyboard and string work create a downtrodden feel in this track, and work well with the single drum rhythm. The last minute of this track is great, featuring some nice cymbal work and jazzy drum rhythm. Ending in an echo, this caps off an excellent album in a good, climatic way.

4 out of 5.

This album is heralded by many to be a departure from the old, psych-rock ways of Porcupine Tree; a fair statement, but it has led into all of current era Porcupine Tree's albums, and I don't think anyone can complain about the way the band has continued to make prog music. A solid foundation was layed by this album, and it has led into some of Porcupine Tree's best ever music. Be wary when listening ? This is by far Porcupine Tree's most commercially aimed album, and this is reflected though the songs. A great way to enter into the world of Porcupine Tree, even in its dullest moments, this is a solid album. The remaster also features a 5.1, extended remaster of EVEN LESS, and the PIANO LESSONS film clip.

4 out of 5.

Enjoy, and keep proggin'!

-Joel

progkidjoel | 4/5 |

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