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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars After such a cornerstone as Signify , Porcupine Tree had to try even harder to renew themselves . Alas, they did but not the way I expected them to do. This album has too many hard rock guitars (borderline noisy-rock) and non-sensical songs. I never got into this album as I find it aggressive and find it relatively aimless.
Report this review (#9583)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This PT album has a touch of pop music, perhaps by the way that the songs were almost all written by Steve Wilson, but the instrumental "Tinto Brass" with the encourage and support of the others members reflex a total keeping soul of PT.
Report this review (#9584)
Posted Sunday, March 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Stupid Dream" is anything but a stupid dream ! The lads from PORCUPINE TREE have unveiled a real beauty here showing why they are quickly becoming one of the most celebrated progressive rock acts today. Careful delicate execution with their unmistakable PORCUPINE TREE-atmosphere -like imagery. "Stupid Dream" contains the standards. . . soaring guitar, brilliant musicianship, background effects and soft vocals. "Stupid Dream" paints a very serene space texture on which PORCUPINE TREE layers on sophisticated and highly technical instrumentation. Songs are very accessible and although not likely to hit the local radio dials, will appeal to all prog heads. All in all "Stupid Dream" is yet another solid chapter in the discography for PORCUPINE TREE. . . go get it!!!!
Report this review (#9585)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars My personal favorite Porcupine Tree album. I enjoy it from the start with Piano Lessons (which is accually a bit funny) all the way up to the end with the electronic sounding "Tinto Brass" and the slower "Stop Swimming". Porcupine Tree is a great band and this is a great album, anyone who likes Porcupine Tree's work should definately consider this album.
Report this review (#9576)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having heard In Absentia, I worked my way through the back catalogue. This is often a tricky process with most bands, as the latest album tends to sound fresh and vibrant and make the earlier albums sound dated. Not the case. 3/4 years prior to In Absentia came Stupid Dream. With one of the best opening tracks (Even Less) of an album I own, it would be hard to keep up this very high standard. However, this is no ordinary band. This is Porcupine Tree. Somehow overlooked for 10 years, only now are they starting to gain the recognition they deserve. Stupid Dream is consistently brilliant, and ends with the breathtakingly beautiful 'Stop Swimming'. 12 songs comprising emotion, beauty, charm, variation, precision & fine instrumentation - what more can we ask for?...
Report this review (#9587)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Simply Stunning... I admit to being a newcomer to PT but the moment I heard this album there was an immedis=ate connection to Steve Wilson trademark sound. I have since bought some of the back catalogue and the later album In Absentia. All should be part of your collection. The musicianship, writing and production are a joy. Buy it if you can!!!
Report this review (#9588)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A far from stupid strategy

With "Stupid Dream", Steve Wilson attempted to turn his back on much of the band's previous output, and instigate a fresh start. Gone are the side long tracks, and the lengthy, sometimes indulgent instrumentals. In their place comes a much tighter, more commercial Porcupine Tree. It's all relative of course, and the band's basic sound is still there, as are the complex structures, and talented instrumental work.

Tracks like "Piano lessons" and "This is no rehearsal" are however far more straight forward and radio friendly than the band's previous works. The latter has a very striking structure, with soft verses interrupted by sudden loud riffs, and a screaming lead guitar.

"Even less", "Pure narcotic" and "Don't hate me" come closer to the progressive sounds of yore, but even these are trimmed back and much more focused. It is interesting to hear the rambling (but nonetheless good) 14 minute demo of "Even less" on the "Four chords which made a million" single and to compare it to the finished version on "Stupid dream". The lyrics on the final version are also less controversial!

With this album, Porcupine Tree moved up several divisions in terms of commercial appeal, while retaining much of what had made them popular with their core fans.

Report this review (#9589)
Posted Thursday, May 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Dont get me wrong, but when Stupid Dream came out it was a massive dissapointment to me, despite being a collection of fantastic tracks.

Unlike many others here, I discovered Porcupine Tree with the release of the Sky Moves Sideways, immediately buying all three of their first albums and getting to love them all. Then came Signify, harder and longer, anaother masterpiece.

But Stupid Dream is not a great album. It IS a great collection of tracks, but that is not the same thing. Up to now, PT produced albums that were all of a style, flowing from track to track, and appear to have been moulded from a whole. Stupid Dream lost that, to become a collection of songs - and anyone can do that.

The individual tracks range from the awesome Even Less, through to the suicidally depressive Stop Swimming - described by Steve Wilson as "Probably our most depressing track - Oh God what a thought!" and all are good - as stand alone tracks, but they don't hang together as a coherent whole.

I hoped the next one would be better...

Report this review (#9590)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
3 stars PORCUPINE TREE is without doubt one of the bands that have given a renewed impulse to prog rock in the 90's. Multi instrumentalist Steve WILSON has also collaborated with great artists like MARILLION and FISH. This the kind of band that has propitiated a change and an evolution inside prog rock or whatever that means.

By the end of 1998, PORCUPINE TREE had already reached a status that demanded of more resources in order to promote their album to come properly. "Delirium Records" starts to unfit the band, because it didn't have the financial solvency necessary to support and to launch their next production, singles, video and all the paraphernalia that is needed to be made in order to access a higher level of audience.

"Stupid Dream" picks up from the realized in "Signify", but with a more underlined tendency that consisted in including short songs, constituting undoubtedly the most commercial album of the band so far even when it doesn't renounce to the key elements of the productions from the past. With this album Steve WILSON tries to explore and develop his skills as songwriter and singer, more that just and arranger.

In "Stupid Dream" WILSON writes about himself, his insecurities, about the stupid dream of being a rock star and the sense of unknowing the higher price this implies and the repetitive disillusions it brings along.

This album certainly contributes with some brilliant moments, but it also uncovers the mask to reveal a doubtful prog rock production. Although WILSON recognizes he has no problem about being labeled as prog rock or not because he only cares about the innovative music, opened to all styles and possible horizons; I have to add that the deep consideration of prog rock is creating that kind of music that leads to a real progresses. The real sense of prog rock.

Report this review (#9591)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars i love this album songs like : even less pure narcotic baby dream in cellophane a smart kid

are the best from this album. the song baby dream in cellophane remind pink floyd at the first of 70's. wilson more sing on this album from the past like signify or up down the .... this is the first album that i heard from the and the song a smart kid is the song that take me to them.if you buy it , you don't wasted your money!

Report this review (#9592)
Posted Sunday, August 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another agressive view of what progresive rock is all about, perhaps so many thinks Porcupine Tree is not porg at all, is valid to mention that they have changed the way we hear at "neo-prog" today. A very solid record with great compositions, showing the classic two-part songs featuring lyrics and instrumental sections. Peak moments like PURE NARCOTIC and DON'T HATE ME upgrade the listening experience to the most. Another great example of good music without stretching the boundries of technical side, full of concept and life.
Report this review (#9593)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is...well, I don't know. OASIS, perhaps?. I know that every creative person has the right to explore, grow and etc., but, to my knowledge, this does not mean to take 20 steps backwards. I don't like anything about this record. I found it shy, poor and boring (Unlike their previous discography, wich is uneven and colorfull; always both a surpise and a pleasure). So, if you want a piece of advice, here it is: buy it, but give it to someone who likes OASIS. Then go to your car and buy "Love, death and Mussolini" for yourself.
Report this review (#9598)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another masterpiece by the Porcupine Tree lads, full of nice ballads, psychedelic songs and pop-direceted progressive music (yes, this is possible). A really work of art in the rock industry, consisting of noisy passages in songs like slave called shiver, and the even less solo, but also nice and "sit with your friends andhave a chat" moments in pure narcotic and stranger by the minute. An elegant album showing the direction that Porcupine Tree took after becoming a full band. Recomended for progheads and people who just like some nice made, not overwhelming rock.
Report this review (#9602)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yeah. 5 starts baby.

Well, I hesistated with this Album at first. I thought it was overrated compared to the rest of the Porcupine Tree Catalogue. It took me a while for it to grow on me. The songs seemed boring, but now they seem so surreal. Its a masterpiece. Steven Wilson himself said that PT listeners should listen to their Albums at least 50 times to understand the true meaning. Thats true, some songs again might be boring, but songs like "Even less" and "pure narcotic" are so full of life that they get you into the happy mood you long wanted. I listened to songs from Stupid Dream during my hard times, it really cheered me up. Great Addition to any genre of music.

Report this review (#9603)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Bob Greece
2 stars I haven't bought many CDs that my pop-loving friends like but this is one. I think that says it all really. Don't get me wrong - I do like some cheerful pop but this music isn't even cheerful. The CD is easy listening and the production quality is 100%. However, it's not prog. There is one track on the album that saves it slightly and that is the instrumental Tinto Brass. None of my pop-loving friends like that. If only the whole album was of the quality of Tinto Brass then it would be a 5 star prog essential. As it is, it is mainly well- produced depressing pop songs.

Strangely enough, this album is now deleted from the catalogue which means that you can only get it in an expensive second-hand version. Well, at least the CD has been a good investment! Ironically, that is probably the last thing that Porcupine Tree wanted the album to become.

Report this review (#39404)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favourite Porcupine Tree album. It is the most varied, including light acoustic melodic songs (Pure Narcotic), indie-rock style songs (Stranger By the Minute) and harder rock songs (Even Less). The most prog tracks are Don't Hate Me and Tinto Brass. There is something for everyone here. Although I also rate Signify and Lightbulb Sun very highly, Steven Wilson's songwriting is at its best in this album.
Report this review (#40368)
Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I got this album as a present, and gradually completely fell in love with it. After playing it over and over again I noticed it gets better after each listen, and keeps surprising me. Not knowing any background of the band, I bought tickets for a live show, took my wife and it was a life changing experience - we were both completely blown away. From that day on I bought the whole back catalogue, including all the limited editions and all other projects mastermind Steven Wilson was involved in (IEM, No Man, Bass Communion, Continuum, OSI etc). It was like I had been digging Rock for years and suddenly hit gold. Stupid Dream starts with the fantastic ''Even Less''. Other absolute highlights to me are ''A Smart Kid'' (out of this world, + incredible lyrics) ''Tinto Brass'' and ''Stop Swimming''. But this is one of those albums that is top notch from start to finish, and the sum is better than the parts. Essential listening, and the most precious band I have heard in a long, long time. Or as someone wrote: ''The best music you never heard''

Albert Toby

Report this review (#41196)
Posted Monday, August 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Oh man . whenever I got tired with what I do during the day, I play "Even Less" or "Don't Hate Me" and it's magically all bad things, all grievances, all problems with my clients or colleagues are gone man .Anyleszzz ..that's the true power of prog music man. I mean it! You can solve your problems by listening excellent music like this album without having to worry about facing the problem itself. No no no .. I'm not suggesting you to run away from your problems as these are not the things that all good management or leadership books (Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis, Pouzes and Kosner, Jack Welch - not Chris Welch!, or even classic authors like Dale Carnegie or Napoleon Hill) have taught us: "face the problem, my dear readers!". What I mean to say here is that . take a deep journey inside yourself and cool it down, take a rest, enjoy the music, play it LOUD!, sip your capuccino, turns off all your lights, close your eyes - let the music guides and brings you to the other world. And the next day: Jump out of bed as soon as you hear the alarm clock! You may also find it useful spending five minutes each morning saying to yourself : "Every day in every way I am getting better and better". Perhaps it is a good idea to start a new day with the right frame of mind." (sleeve note of Radiohead OK Computer). Yeah, face the problem the next day with a new frame of mind. That's what we call it as paradigm shift! Yeah .. music can help you to do so. If it can't, repeat it again: over and over .

No one would argue that "Even Less" (7:11) is a great track by any dimension. Name it: simplicity, great melody, great sounds, great flow, great singing - all are there man! Plus .. I like at the end of the track there is female voice counting numbers. So powerful and so rewarding! "Piano Lessons" (4:21) is a simple and nice song with psychedelic style. "Pure Narcotic" (5:02) represents what truly Porcupine Tree sound is. "Slave Called Shiver" (4:41) has great bass lines combined with nice and simple piano touch. If you happen to listen "Don't Hate Me" (8:30), please do let me know any weak point of this track. I can not identify. It's a perfect track and it gives great nuances of wonderfully crafted music.

Is it wise to give a masterpiece rating for a less complex album like this one? Why not!

Progressively yours, GW

Report this review (#41278)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A shame that this album is so rare, because it may possibly be one of the best progressive rock albums of the last decade. This album leaves nothing to be upset about- its simply amazing, from start to finish.

The music is fantastic- melodic, and relaxing.

The lyrics are PT's best- Wilson always does a great job.

A must have album- for any progger- this cd will be re-released next year! SO get it!

Report this review (#44578)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow the most suriprising tree album for me... it followed signify what a sound change. It such a complete cd you can't just put it in for a few songs you will listen to the hole album. If I could give it 6 stars I would, once I take the cd out to listen to It I can't wait to listen to It again. -Even less, I don't now why they chose to put the shorter verson on stupid dream but even less the song rocks..ah ah. -piano lessen, nothing like tree has ever done before... great pop song. -pure narcotic, my personal favorite to play and sing... is brilliant on xm2. -slave called shiver, bassy and just rocks (mother I need Her) -Don't hate me, tree brakes out with horns. -this is no rehearsal, just plan weired and I don't now how they wrote it but I like It. -stranger by the minute, one of there BEST hits it just makes me so happy. - A smart kid, what a why to make the album complete it follows a hit on trake #10 and it's just so amazing... It tells a story -Tinto brass, Instermentle thats very different from any instermentle on signify, with a hard rythem. - Stop swimming, one of my favorite songs and is a great why to end this masterpeice of a album well done steven wilson and porcupine tree. (as always)
Report this review (#45386)
Posted Saturday, September 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars If "Signify" was a shaking but yet enjoyable album which served as a transition between two eras, "Stupid Dream" is now a clear example of the new (and current, by the way) musical stage that now Wilson and his mates decided to emphasize in their musical work

This album, along with most of the following ones, has received severe critics, claiming that PT had left their Psychedelic and spacey progressive roots for something that could be atributed to any 'normal' band of today. I must say that I'm sorry but I profoundly disagree, because a work of this complexity is not something that is within the reach of anyone. The fact that PT has substituted the lengthy, kind of ambient pseudo-instrumental tracks for hard-rock, more guitar based work doesn't imply that they have lost their progressive essence. You can't expect Wilson (and now his companions) to be doing always the same.

Getting in a more deep analysis of this record, we can appreciate, as I mentioned before, that the songs we can listen on this album are more entitled to the musical work of a whole rock band, with every classic instrument like guitar, bass, drums, piano, synth, etc properly assembled for our enjoyment. Wilson has now more vocal comminment than in previous efforts (the man himself once mentioned that), so the results are something to take into account.

"Even Less" starts almost in a silent manner, with the typical sound of voices (laughter in this case) followed with a balanced and solitary guitar riff for some seconds. After that, a powerful and meaningful song is presented to us, being one of the hard rock anthems that PT have provided in recent albums. "Piano Lessons" shows some of this 'straightforward' spirit that maybe some people don't like. However, the song is very well performed, refreshing and it is something worthy to listen the guitar work here."Stupid Dream" is a short spacey (one of the few touchs left now) prelude to "Pure Narcotic", another precious ballad that shares some similarities with "Waiting (Phase One)". "Slave Called Shiver" mixes a piercing bass sound with a switching piano and curious percussion arrangements and strong guitar riffs. Pay attention to the lyrics, they are also remarkable. "Don't hate me" is a quite melancholic piece, probably one the weakest of the album but still an enjoyable one. "This is no rehersal" introduce us to a new kind of track that PT like to put in their recent albums. These tracks are one in which we have passages of slow or calm musical work mixed with occasional speedy hard rock seconds that give such an amazing and contrasted result ("Blackest eyes", from "In Absentia" is another good example). "Baby Dream in Cellophane" is an atmospheric, subtle and delicious song, with Spanish guitars and kind of Garfunkel- esque vocals that prove how a complete vocalist is Steve Wilson (where is the conventional music here? Please someone tell me). "Stranger by the minute" starts with a festive guitar riff, followed with more complex guitar textures, with Wilson voice lyrics completing another good song. "A smart kid" starts with a low tone again to provide us with another calm, sensitive and elegant song, again with Spanish guitar, a perfect partner for piano and Wilson vocals. "Tinto Brass" rescues some psychedelia that some may have been missing. Probably this song is one of those which remind us the most to the previous era (pay attention to the flute). It starts with the known psychedelic elements, mixed with the guitar hard rock material present on the album (note also some sounds previously listened). "Stop Swimming" is the other nearly- instrumental piece of the album, which serves as a perferct farewell.

Then, I hope this review serves to convince those skeptical people who think PT latter albums are not worth it. I think they are, and pretty much.

Report this review (#61656)
Posted Sunday, December 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Possibly the most depressing album ever.

Some morbid fascination kept me coming back to this album, as it didn't really grab my attention right off the bat. All I really remembered after the first listen was somewhat pop song Stranger by the Minute and the punk vibe of This Is No Rehearsal. What I didn't notice was the beautiful quiet section of Don't Hate Me after the WONDERFUL sax and flute solos, the eerie vibes of A Smart Kid, the eccentric instrumental of Tinto Brass, the beautiful build up of Even Less and the pure sadness of Stop Swimming.

The album has two distinct sounds: A Signify-eque sound and a Lightbulb Sun-esque sound. Songs like Piano Lessons, This Is No Rehearsal, Stranger by the Minute and probably Slave Called Shiver will appeal to any fan of newer PT stuff, and hopefully older fans too. all of them are full of hooks and it even sounds like Stranger by the Minute is MIXED differently. Meanwhile, A Smart Kid, Stop Swimming, Even Less, Don't Hate Me, Tinto Brass, they're all significantly more experimental and more reliant on moody atmospheric stuff. Incidentally, all of those are songs are pure beauty. An entire album of songs like them...would I have given this five stars sooner? I don't know, because too many songs like A Smart Kid would get repetitive, of course. The poppier songs lighten the mood and it really does help, and the great guitar solos in them would be nonexistant. Baby Dream in Cellophane and Pure Narcotic are more acoustic and pretty much just pleasant songs.

I'll be the first one to admit songs like Stranger by the Minute and This Is No Rehearsal aren't perfect, and a couple other songs are just solid 4/5 material. That doesn't matter to me though. I've never encountered an album yet where I like EVERY song equally, and Stop Swimming, Don't Hate Me, Even Less, Slave Called Shiver and Tinto Brass more than make up for anything bad.

For the record, Stop Swimming may just be the most depressing song ever off one of the most depressing albums ever.

Report this review (#67080)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I see this one and LIGHTBULB SUN as gateways to my fave PT disc (and the first one I picked up), IN ABSENTIA. The difference between this one and "IA" is this: to me, this sounds much more focused and song-oriented. Though IN ABSENTIA is clearly the mark of a more mature band, here there's more cohesion, it being more focused on actual SONGWRITING, and less jamming out. All in all, a good solid album. PIANO LESSONS is catchy, with a hummable melody; but the lyrics get me. He's talking about a woman; that much is clear. But who is she? His lover, or his piano teacher? Who knows? Wilson's lyrics are never really outright in their intent, be they in ballads or otherwise. I adore DON'T HATE ME; especially the instrumental break. What sounds like a flute at the beginning turns into a sax playing a winsome melody. It's a winner in my book, and without all those irritating sound effects that bugged me about "IA" it's a clear contender for 5 stars. That's the rating I SHOULD give it, but I won't. Why? The production is TOO clinical. That's my main problem with it. Otherwise, it's a solid 4 star disc. Bravo.

Report this review (#70694)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars "Stupid Dream" is the first of the two "song oriented" albums from PORCUPINE TREE. I do prefer "Lightbulb Sun" to this one though.Their first four full length cds were released on the "Delerium" label, this would be the first of four to be released on the "Lava" label. "Stupid Dream" is the favourite record of many PORCUPINE TREE fans, it's really a collection of well crafted songs.The music is sad but beautiful.

"Even Less" is one of my all time favourite songs from them. Synths build as we can hear laughter and guitar comes in and now i'm laughing. Drums and a full sound a minute in. The synths are amazing. I love when it calms down and Steven starts to sing. Powerful, pulsating sounds before 5 minutes followed by some gorgeous guitar. "Piano Lessons" is a fun, uptempo track with a great chorus. The vocals are almost dreamy after 3 minutes. "Stupid Dream" is a short, spacey instrumental. "Pure Narcotic" is such a charming song with fantastic lyrics. Strummed guitar throughout. A top three for me on this record. "A Slave Called Shiver" has a nice bass intro. This one is dark and recalls the "Signify" album.The drumming is prominant. Great sound 2 1/2 minutes in.This is a powerful tune. "Don't Hate Me" is a melancholic and laid back song. We get some flute and sax from Theo Travis. A sad calm 5 1/2 minutes in. Steven ends it on the organ. "This Is No Rehearsal" is more uptempo with some psychedelic guitar 2 minutes in. "Baby Dream In Cellophane" has a psychedelic flavour with the vocals. It's so beautiful before 1 1/2 minutes and later. "Stranger By the Minute" is another favourite of mine. It's such a feel good track. Love the line "But your just fiction, and i'm a twisted boy". Tasteful guitar after 3 minutes. "A Smart Kid" is another incredible tune and a top three. Gentle guitar, vocals and synths to start. A fuller sound 2 minutes in. Spacey before 4 minutes, organ a minute later. I just really love the lyrics and atmosphere here. "Tinto Brass" is an uptempo instrumental once it gets going. A good driving beat. I like when the synths come in at 2 minutes. A powerful sound after 3 1/2 minutes and to end it. "Stop Swimming" is a personal favourite of Steven Wilson's. He says that this is based on advise he received about the music business.To create the music he loves, and not to worry about the rest. I think it's working.

"Even Less" and "A Smart Kid" are the standout tracks for me.

Report this review (#88969)
Posted Monday, September 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stupid Dream offers a mix of great tracks and mediocre ones, and they have carefully established their genre as "interesting rock". There are many pleasant and easy to like songs that would appeal to a more general public. A lot of the album is very subtle, which I think is some beautiful artistry by Wilson.

The highlight of the album is Even Less. A great prog rock song that fits right in there with the "classics". It's a great little melody that will certainly stick with you. However, most of the album is too commercial for me. I can only enjoy the "pop" rock nature of it for so long. I'm sure many of the older fans were more displeased with this record than I was, having got into the band with the release of In Absentia.

The album is a fairly big change for the band, and while still having intrigue and many prog moments, its much less of the "good stuff" than you might hope to find.

Report this review (#89017)
Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Modern Classic. That's what I like to see, or should I say, hear.

Here's an in-depth of this excellent CD:

Even Less is a nice way to start it. (It's also currently up on the player for you to listen to right now) It's a slow sort of pop ballad in which lyrics suggest themes of equality and others. The lyrics are top notch throughout the album.

Piano Lessons is a tongue in cheek poppy song, which really catchy and probably the most instantly recognisable songs on the album.

Stupid Dream is simply a bridge joining the last song with the next one.

Pure Narcotic is similar to Piano Lessons, and it seems like the bridge of the last track sort of makes them like one song, even though the lyrics are completely different. It's probably not intended to seem like that, but nevertheless it sounds pretty cool. Very catchy.

Slave Called Shiver is a slightly more upbeat song, which continues the catchy pop feel of the album. It's excellent.Sounds quite like Halo from their latest album, Deadwing.

Don't Hate Me is the longest song on the album, but just because this is the case doesn't mean it's prog. It's just a long song, with a minor tone. The chorus is the highlight of this one.

This Is No Rehearsal is a cool little song with some nice awkward drumming. It's still some of their most poppy stuff yet. Think "The Sound Of Muzak" from In Absentia, they're quite similar to each other.

Baby Dream In Cellephaneis a minor sounding song. It's probably the weakest song on the record, and the most boring one. The only weaker link in the chain, although it still stands alone in its own right as a good song.

Stranger By The Minute has got another catchy chorus, and it's got a cool solo at the end.

A Smart Kid is another sort of "depressive pop song" from the album. It's god a cool little metaphor story in the lyrics.

Tinto Brass is one of their cool inrtumentals. It's the heaviest song on the album, and is pretty chaotic. Very, very cool.

Stop Swimming is a bleak outro, but a nice little way to end the album.

Overall, this is a really impressive album, and one of PT's strongest. It's their poppiest one to date, and probably the most mainstream sounding, though all the songs have their extremely credible production values and layering to make them stand out on their own right. If you get it' the version you'll end up with will probably be the rereleased version which came out this year. This is an even better reason to own the albu, as you get a bonus DVD with the whole album in DVD-A format (you can buy Deadwing on DVD- A full price!) and the video for Piano Lessons, which is pretty funny. It's also got the lyrics on the DVD along with some extras, like photos.

A really good purchase, and it's a good starting point with the band. It's not prog, like a lot of PT stuff (excluding Voyage 34 and The Sky Moves Sideways, which are extremely Floyd inspired and influenced) but it's a really good "thinking out of the box" pop-rock album. If you want their Prog stuff, try TSMS first, then V34.

But if you just want a really good catchy album that'll dominate your stereo for a while, go for this. Anyone could instantly like it.

Report this review (#89373)
Posted Sunday, September 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Probably the most emotive and the most honest of all albums in nineties.

Might be that lyrics are bit simpler, and it made many listeners to think of this as an album with "pop approach", which is certainly not true. I feel this as a concept work, although there are no strong connections between songs, but all moods in compositions are as dark as those on their previous album, Signify, and all are about human's inner world. First song "Even Less" is as psychedelic as any song from their delirium period, has got excellent warm ambient-like guitar and very good rhythm guitar, nice effects, very picturesque, great track. Another song called "Piano Lessons" needs some more time to be appreciated, but it has grown on me, and has got nice melody and interesting guitar that sounds very original. "Pure Narcotic" is dear song to me, but unusual for Porcupine Tree, not bad song, pleasant for easy listening, it has got acoustic guitar as a rhythm guitar, and cute sinths. "Slave Called Shiver" is excellent, powerful song and begins the era of heavier psychedelic sound which will be later characteristic for next band's musical period. Guitar is very juicy and it sounds like pure Trans to me. "Don't Hate Me" is one of my most favorite tracks ever, begins with extraordinary psychedelic bass line that build up whole composition and guitar sound effects, with beautiful voice of Steven Wilson. Than there comes mind-blowing flute and saxophone hits from nowhere and shot the spice of song. After that there is some ambient sound, and song finishes with warm and beautiful guitar solo. This is the solo on which even David Guilmour would be jealous. "Baby Dream In Celophane" has acoustic guitar that makes me think of some oriental instruments, like saz. Bass line fits perfect with this guitar and the whole atmosphere is amplified by sporadic guitar riff. "Stranger By the Minute" is special to me. Again there is great bass melody and it makes me to appreciate work of Colin Edvin very much. "Smart Kid" really could make me cry, mellow, sweat tune, beautifully atmospheric song of love. There is one more fantastic and emotive guitar solo there. "Tinto Brass" showed that psychedelic music has a promising future. This is "Killer" instrumental adrenaline plus delirium. "Stop Swimming" is ending song, slow, with sophisticated drumming and nice piano. All this technical ingredients of album that I managed to remember will not make you love this piece. It is something that must be heard.

This is one very well done album, combining psychedelic rock parts, nice emotive songs, some easier and more accessible tracks, in few words: diverse album. Warm and dark, usual and weird, heavy and soft, this is unique music piece.

Report this review (#95744)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I only got this about three weeks ago, but I have played it consisently since, so I am well used to it now. This is another wonderful album from PT, and it captures the band in transition from the earlier 'spacey' days to the later 'heavier' days. Nevertheless, it is instantly recognisable as PT, mainly through Steven Wilson's dreamy vocals. 'Even Less' is a good opener, with a smooth flow to it, nice jangly guitar and a typical PT melody. (I have the two disc re-release, and their is a 14+ minute version of this on the second disc. Unfortunately, I have no equipment on which to play this yet! But I think a friend of mine will be very interested to hear it, and he has the necessary equipment!) 'Piano Lessons' is probably my second favourite track on the album. A shorter piece, it is ridiculously catchy, with jerky piano work, a beautifully sung chorus, and very funny lyrics. And, as the end approaches, the trademark Wilson guitar comes in, not as a solo, but backing the repeated chorus. You can recognise it as his work instantly, and it only enhances a wonderful song. It fades then into the very short instrumental title track 'Stupid Dream', which barely lasts half a minute, and could easily be mistaken as part of the ending of 'Piano Lessons'. Non essential but acting more like a bridge, it leads into 'Pure Narcotic'. This is another sombre song, with less instrumentation and a typical quiet Wilson vocal. Not bad, but not my fave. 'Slave Called Shiver' shows the direction the band were to take on later songs such as 'Strip The Soul' and 'Halo'. Not my favourite type of PT song, but nevertheless interesting, with heavier 'stop-start' guitar and vocal effects in the chorus. 'Don't Hate Me' is the longest track on the cd, and is a lovely, melancholy filled piece. Wilson's vocals are imploring here on the chorus and he sings the song wonderfully. Very atmospheric, the song is full of 'spaces', similar to the type of song Pink Floyd were good at writing. In other words, the music doesn't crowd out the melody or words. 'This Is No Rehearsal' is another funny piece, about a woman (presumably) who makes a habit of losing children in the shopping arcade! Nice acoustic guitar on this mid paced track. And this leads into 'Baby Dream In Cellophane', which appears to be the baby's take on affairs. A gentler piece, it strangely fits the picture of a baby contemplating life. (Well it does to me!) 'Stranger By The Minute' is, without doubt, my favourite track on the album. This is another of those short(ish), very catchy tracks. Nice guitar work here, with some effective slide guitar thrown into the mix from verse two. I love the way Wilson sings, at the end of verse three, 'But I'm a twisted boy.' Very strange, yet strangely charming. The chorus too is super smooth, with Chris Maitland adding his vocals here. As much as I admire Gavin Harrison, their current drummer, I still have a soft spot for Maitland. Something about the man stands out. Anyway, a song that will have you singing along from the second listen. 'A Smart Kid' remind me a little of 'Don't Hate Me' in its tempo and mood. More clever lyrics here that I will leave you to discover for yourself. Another track full of spaces. 'Tinto Brass' is a superb instrumental, with Theo Travis supplying some excellent flute and saxophone work, whilst Wilson's trademark spacey guitar plays a big part again. Finally, we have 'Stop Swimming', a gentle, slow paced song that finishes off the album nicely. It doesn't really go anywhere, and it doesn't particularly stand out, but it's inoffensive, and is sung in typical Wilson fashion. This is another excellent offering from PT (I have yet to hear a weak album from them!) but I doubt it will ever be my favourite album. I suspect some critics might call it a bit bland. For me, it is what I expect from PT really. Very good. Next I am looking forward to the re-release of 'Lightbulb Sun', which I suspect is an album in similar vein to this. This is another four start effort.
Report this review (#99459)
Posted Saturday, November 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The 1999 issue of STUPID DREAM was good, maybe even very good. The 2006 re-issue also being remixed in multi channel 5.1 is even better. Not only the 5.1 version is interesting to listen to, also the 2.0 stereo mix seems more "clear" than its predecessor. The new version of the album also contains a new approach on the artwork, based on the original artwork, by Lasse Hoile.

If you don't have this album yet I would certainly advise you to get the 2006 re-issue as the 5.1 mix is simply astonishing. You should play it on a DVD-A player, but it is also playable in Dolby Digital or dts, making it enjoyable on almost any surround home theatre set. PORCUPINE TREE has won several awards for their multi channel album mixes and this one proves that they really take this very seriously and put a lot of effort in it.

So far for the technical stuff. What rests is a great album with almost no flaws. My personal favourites of this album are EVEN LESS, DON'T HATE ME, TINTO BRASS and STOP SWIMMING. Not that the other songs are bad, on the contrary! All songs are really worth it making this album rate at least 4 stars!

Why not 5 stars? Simply because I personally find RECORDINGS even better!

Report this review (#99853)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars What an essential Masterpiece! No real music lover could possibly go without Stupid Dream as part of their Collection!

This jewel begins with a Total Epic, Even Less. It is just simply mindblowing, masterful, and ever so deep in ways that words simply cannot describe. Besides, it's 7 minutes long, and we all know the longer the song is the better it is.

Next we have Piano Lessons, the profundity of this little gem is seen through the masterful portrayal of the piano lessons...we can almost SEE the piano lessons as we listen. Yes, it is that deep! It is deceptively simple in its engineering, absolutely breathtaking in its execution.

Stupid dream: noise track...why do they put these filler tracks in here just to make the album longer? Well, we all know that the longer an album is the proggier it is and therefore the better it is, but...they should achieve that length by composing True Prog

Pure Narcotic: Another stand out track! Upbeat and uplifting yet still interesting in its musicianship!

Slave Called Shiver: You gotta love the progginess of the bass line. And then when the keyboards come in...ohh it's So Prog!

Don't Hate Me: One word: EPIC!!!!!!!!!

This is No Rehearsal: Not a stand out track. Too unprog. That means it's bad.

Baby Dream in Cellophane: This standout gem draws its beauty from its lyrics masterfully engineered to persuade new parents not to wrap their babies in cellophane, a horrible and shockingly uncommon practise quite widespread throughout north america

Stranger By The Minute: Breath-taking, simply breath-taking.

A Smart Kid: An Epic disguised as a crappy pop song! We immediately notice on the track listing that it is only 5 minutes long and immediately assume that it will be utter trash, totally non-essential. But we are wrong! We soon see that this is a true Masterpiece of Epic Qualitiness that cannot be denied by even the greatest of Prog Masters!

Tinto Brass: So original! So unlike anything I have ever heard and therefore it is so amazing, so Godlike!

Stop Swimming: A let down compared with the Beauty and Epicness of the rest of this Album. Its redeeming quality is that it is almost 7 minutes long, thus making it better than many of the shorter, less Epic tracks on this album.

All in all...a complete Essential Masterpiece! You simply cannot live without it! Really, I tried and almost died!

Report this review (#101403)
Posted Saturday, December 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a fabulous album with some spacey psychidelia, but structured very well. The album begins with Even less, which is a great tune. I just love the first verse. I am a huge fan of Steven Wilson's voice. Piana Lessons is a decent pop tune that leads to the interlude called Stupid Dream. The best songs on this album in my humble opinion are Even Less,Slave Called Shiver, Don't Hate Me, and Stop Swimming.


Report this review (#107024)
Posted Wednesday, January 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#110600)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars My second favorite Porcupine Tree album to date, and is their first album, except Deadwing, where I have liked every song on the album more than a little.

Even Less- 8/10 Not my favorite track on the album, but gives a great start on the album, and gives a feeling that you're listining to somthing out of Signify.

Piano Lessons- 9/10 The most straightforward track on the album, and interesting lyrics. (when are porcupine tree lyrics not interesting)

Stupid Dream- 5/10 This 28 second psychedelic blip in the album is kind of cool, but also unessisary

Pure Narcotic- 9/10 The Vocals and acustic guitar are nice, and make it an overall good song.

Slave Called Shiver- 10/10 The bass in this song is repeditive, but awesome, and once again, the lyrics are great. It reminds me of something from In Absentia

Dont Hate Me- 10/10 The long centerpiece that I think is my favorite song on the album, and is really amazing live. The flute and saxiphone in the song is a really great touch to the song.

This is no Rehearsal- 9/10 I like the drums, the lyrics, and the gutar solo.

Baby Dream in a Cellephane- 9/10 A spacy dark-themed song with overlaping vocals, that make it a wonderful addition.

Stranger by the Minute- 8/10 A strange theme, hence the name, and a mix of psychedelic sounds to the song, but it needs to be more complex somehow, like more than just a repeating tamberine, for example. Besides that, its a great song.

A Smart Kid- 9/10 Depressing, but interesting, summs up the song. I can feel it taking me to the end of the world, and to the end of the album.

Tinto Brass- 8/10 Such a very strange song, but enjoyable none the less. A phone off the hook, until the 50 second mark, then the drumms kick in and then finally the flute, then bass, gutars etc. The only instrumental song on the album, unless you include stupid dream.

Stop Swimming- 9/10 The last song on the album and has a theme of just giving up. A depressing theme, but a beautiful song.

Stupid Dream flows so well. So buy it! Unfortunately, there is a rumor of counterfieted versions of this album. One of the biggest ways to tell if it is counterfieted, is if the porcupine tree stupid dream label on the side is bright green.

Long live Porcupine Tree!

5/5 stars

*This review is stale, I might rewrite it, but I must bring this album down to three stars.*

Report this review (#114448)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great music, awsome musicians. Stupid Dream is a CD for everyone to listen to. It's got some of Wilsons best works on this CD. One of my favorites under Deadwing, In Absentia, and Lightbulb Sun. It's one of those CDs that I listen to for some good soft psychedelic acoutic rock. This is the area before Porcupine Tree went insanely dark and heavy. They have a brilliant power to this album, Piano Lessons is one of my all time favorite songs that they've made. Trinto Bass is an incredible instrumental and all the other songs, I don't know, to me they seemed to come from some genious' thought process. Sometimes psychedelia can get to people's heads and bug them for all the odd noises it makes, odd noises that you "can only understand if you high". Porcupine Tree isn't such, if you need something to introduce into the ways of the psychedelia ways, check these guys out. 5/5 for such a master acomplishment. I suggest this album to anyone who's looking for a good rocky listen that isn't too crazy but is just crazy enough to love.
Report this review (#118102)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree's first album for K-Scope/Snapper starts out with a definite bang -- "Even Less," with some of the quartet's biggest, blasting rock epic music yet, yet also shot through with the gentler, acoustic side that makes Porcupine Tree so intimate and lovely. The net result easily calls Yes to mind, but Steven Wilson's not so high-pitched as Jon Anderson and Richard Barbieri completely avoids Rick Wakeman's extreme idiocies -- prog that knows when less is more. With that as a fine signal for the album as a whole, Stupid Dream takes it from there -- Wilson as a songwriter and singer both sounds recharged and more ambitious, while the group collectively pours it on. The loud passages feel truly sky- smashing, the calmer ones perfectly close, and the overall sense of build and drama -- "A Smart Kid" is a fine example -- spot-on. Strings from the East of England Orchestra and guest work on Wilson's sometime Bass Communion partner Theo Travis add even lusher atmospheres without swamping the tunes. As always, the group isn't afraid to experiment where others merely re-create -- check out the funky breaks Colin Edwin and Chris Maitland lay down on "Slave Called Shiver," not to mention Wilson's catchy piano figure and Barbieri's Hammond organ fills. Lyrically, Wilson comes up with some of his best work yet. "Piano Lessons" looks back on past musical learning and a doubtful teacher as a spur to trying harder, while "Pure Narcotic" offers up a romantic scenario and tip of the hat to Radiohead all at once: "You keep me hating/You keep me listening to The Bends." There's actually a musical hint or two of the Oxford quintet as well -- the acoustic guitar/drum intro to "This Is No Rehearsal" is a good example -- but leave it to Porcupine Tree to drop in some fully plugged in thrash metal, as well.
Report this review (#119681)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#119734)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Can prog be pop?

I had BBQ last Saturday (hey Norn Iron gets warm occasionally). A few non-proggers were knocking around. They were introduced to PT with Deadwing. Went down very well. Then Stupid Dream ... Maybe it was the time of night, maybe it was the vast quantities of wine & good scran. Anyhow ...

Even Less sounded haunting and angsty (is that a word???) but cools down to a nice chuggin' heavy heart beat. Test passed ... absolute silence from the boys as we move on to Piano Lessons. Pleasant conversation ensued over the boppy syncopation. Wifeys mooch around for an approving listen and dance. Sweet.

Once again silence for Stupid Dream. It was odd because we'd set a telescope up & you could see the Cassini divison in Saturn's rings. The reason I mention this is that the chatty warm conversation was cut short by a significant silent WOW when they looked thorugh the scope. It was exactly the same with the PT....

And then there is that shared inane grin when something really hits the groove. Slave Called Shiver. Mmm feel the bass. It's the sort of mutual feelgood factor song that you expect from The Tragically Hip (well from Road Apples or Fully Completely) ...

Can prog be groovy??

Don't Hate me tapped into that semi-melancholic vein that pleasnat boozy evenings inevitably engender. Oh but I love that bass. Reminds me a bit of Nic Karn (?) that really tall bloke from Japan. Got to be said it does drag on a bit .... boys left to refuel.

Luckily wifeys returned in time for This is No Rehearsal. Once more poppy but hold on. Listen to the lyrics. And what's this: a Wah-Wah breakdown? Steady on chaps! The up-tempo is takes the gathered masses (well 5 of us) back to early 80s new wave.

Everything quietens ... Baby Dream in Cellephane (is that the same as Cellophane??). THe wifeys leave in disapproval of the title. It's nice, but since one of the boys is a big Kings X fan he reckons it doesn't pass muster (Gretchen goes to Nebraska or Out of the Silent Planet I am told are far better).

Stranger by the Minute rescues everyone. The embers are glowing red in the BBQ. The wifeys are listening with approval. The lads are enjoying it to. Definitely pop. Even a little cute bluesy lead ... but the lyrics are without doubt, or as some pretentituous people would say .. peradventure ... prog.

Smart Kid is too intimate and odd for this time ... "stranded here on planet earth ... it's not much but it could be worse" ... OK.... back slowly out of the room retaining eye contact.

We end with Tinto Brass ... this is so 80s when it kicks off .. but just great. then it sound as if U2 have been brought in to guest ... followed by Jon Anderson's tripped out nephew ... and then our own little metal head nephews join in. what is going on???

Well this is prog but not as we know it Jim.

But wait Stop Swimming reminds us that it's the end of the album and makes sure that you leave with a serious downer. Just when you thought life was good "maybe it's time to stop swimming". Right. OK. Where is the eject button? rummaging around the dark shed .. embers now dying. Ahh there it is.

Quick find Lightbulb Sun....

Report this review (#120464)
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The less dramatic recording from Wilson and co. is a record made mainly from pop songs. Some of them heavy but to say the truth very forgettable. This is a record you could skip and go straight ahead to "Lightbulb Sun" So as much as I love this guy I will put this CD to sleep for a long time.
Report this review (#120905)
Posted Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars During Porcupine's transition from pure psychedelic/ambient music to rock/metal, several key album mark the transition period. Stupid Dream is one of the first to begin this transition, after Signify, of course. This album is similar to Lightbulb Sun, in many respects, but it is a bit more balanced, I find. This album has many good songs, and a few decent songs, whereas Lightbulb Sun had many excellent songs, and many horrible songs. The production, album art, musicianship, sound quality, et cetera, is all up to par with Porc's other albums.

There are numerous comparisons to be made between this album and Lightbulb Sun: for example, both lack a certain spark to truly compel me and capture me. The drenching atmospheres throughout Porcupine Tree's albums is a little bit deficient on the two, though still existent. However, despite its dryness in terms of atmosphere, the songwriting and lyrics are excellent. With its sort of passive anger, Stupid Dream evolves from basic rockers, to near-ambient tracks, with spacey keyboard and effects, and cosmic guitar. The volume scale is varied, happily. This, along with Lightbulb Sun, are Tofu Bush's best pop/prog albums.

Some songs are upbeat (yet still surreal) pop/rock songs (Even Less, This Is No Rehearsal, Piano Lessons), and some are still very experimental and progressive (Baby Dream In Cellophane, Don't Hate Me, A Smart cetera). Don't Hate Me is a very beautiful song, excellently layered, with catchy melodies and sympathetic lyrics. I don't find this album quite as dynamic and diverse as some of Porc Tree's others, but still very much so.

Report this review (#128698)
Posted Sunday, July 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Steven Wilson sells out, but he's not happy about it.

Following such psychadellic albums such as Up The Downstair, The Sky Moves Sideways, and Signify, Steve Wilson turns the band sharply and starts writting a more song based album. Be this the work of himself or producers, we don't know, but as described in PIANO LESSONS, "Get ready to be sold." this is an album devoid of Porcupine Tree's usual granduer, producing three singles, and more radio friendly (if darker) material (even cutting a 14 minute long EVEN LESS into a mere 7 minutes, and while the remaster does include the original I'd have liked to have seen the full version on the cd.), but it's good none the less. The album does sound more poppy, a big reason why it's harder to get into for the progressive crowd, but after a few listens it does leave it's mark.

Starting with the shortened EVEN LESS we're introduced to a lighter sounding, much more evil version of the band. For example, the subject matter over the album ranges from dead bodies being washed up on a beach to reminicing about "cruel ears" of a piano instructor telling her student he's "better off in bed", to a track called DON'T HATE ME, to a tale of a boy wanting to leave the confines of the Earth, to Steve Wilson telling his audience in a roundabout way to stop trying to disect his songs so much. With this in mind it's no wonder the prog tag still sticks to this album despite it's poppy sound.

There are some remarkable standouts here, PIANO LESSONS has always been a favorite for me, while PURE NARCOTIC and THIS IS NO REHERSAL are just as good. However, TINTO BRASS is the song that always kept me coming back, starting with a phone dial tone and cataclysmically exploding into a great instrumental that is totally unmissable by the end, this is a true (if lost) Porcupine Tree classic.

Here is a great album that I'd easilly give 3.5 stars to. Excellent, but not toally essential, especially for those who want a more album- based album. But for anyone who want to hear the evolution of early PT to current PT this is definately the turning point, and though later alums such as IN ABSENTIA capture that side of the band better this is definatly worth the expense.

Ah! Also good to note, the remastered edition includes the 5.1 surround mix, as well as the full verison of EVEN LESS and the video for PIANO LESSONS. If you're indecisive about buying the album, that might win you over.

Report this review (#135520)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Better by the Minute

Stupid Dream has for a while now become what I feel is a crowning achievement for Porcupine Tree, with all the subsequent albums being constantly flawed at some point (but still quite good - kudos to PT for that). It arrives after what I consider a somewhat failed experiment (Signify) which in turn had followed a masterpiece (The Sky Moves Sideways). One of the impressive things about Stupid Dream is that the band did not become discouraged at all by Signify, and decided to pursue that style, while upgrading the formula, mixing their earlier psychedelic-spacey sound with a hard rock approach, yet at the same time creating a very easy and pleasant album to listen, despite the depressive mood that haunts it. The overall sound of the album ranges from Hard-Prog to Space, aggressive to mellow, happy to desperate, while the lyrics are filled with frustration, submission, and aggressive, suicidal or even apocalyptic moods.

Even Less, one of the heavier songs on the album, has become a staple in PT's career, with its powerful slow riff that drives the entire song, after the strings intro, and its despairing message of frustration. The follow up, Piano Lessons, has a fantastic piano and guitar solo section, great vocal performance, and an interesting "In your face!" message in the lyrics. After the short, instrumental title track (mostly strings and electronic sounds) comes another great PT classic. Pure Narcotic is an acoustic guitar and piano driven song, briefly complemented by keyboards before the introduction of a more electric solo section, that fades to another vocal part. The funky bass and percussion opening of Slave Called Shiver, complemented by the repetitive piano chords, almost let us now from the start that this won't be a "nice" song. Fantastic vocals and atmospheric background music can be heard before the electric guitars introduce the heavier vocal-less sections. Don't Hate Me is a generally more melancholic song, with gentle vocals from Wilson and fantastic keyboard work by Barbieri. The middle section of the song features a drowsy piece of flutework and saxophone, in a section very reminiscent of early PT and. later Pink Floyd. It is followed by an ambient like part that introduces the final section, a reprise of the first, this time featuring a final guitar solo. This Is No Reharsal is another musically merrier tune, a rare thing in this album, with very fast paced sections and a funky middle section with the appropriate Wilson solo. Baby Dream in Cellophane features Wilson's slightly distorted vocals over acoustic guitar chords and spacey slide guitar. Lovely chorus and power riff complement the remaining of the song. Another of the musically happy/lyrically dark tunes is the more pop-oriented song Stranger By The Minute. Structurally its not an impressive tune, but the way it is sung, played and arranged makes for a great listen. The track that follows it is the less-poppy, more melancholic and completely apocalyptical A Smart Kid. This song features amazing atmospheric sounds, that really give an image of desolation, a beautiful emotional chorus, and a delightful final guitar solo. After the heavier sounding Even Less, Porcupine Tree decide to destroy what is left of the amplifiers with Tinto Brass, a funky space-rock tune that turns into a metal extravaganza - a clear sign, along with Russia on Ice, of the music Porcupine Tree would be playing regularly from In Absentia on. If memory serves me, Steven Wilson once said of Stop Swimming to be one of his favourite compositions. We can only agree. It was probably the harder song on the album to get into, such was the sadness and despair present in both music and lyrics. But after quite a few listens we finally get to see the beauty in it, and understand why Wilson chose it over the second half of Even Less to end the album.

None of the songs on Stupid Dream is my absolute favourite by Porcupine Tree. Yet they are all of great quality. Stupid Dream is a rare album in the sense that it has no highlights, because all the songs are equally good (the only one that can be considered sub-par is the title track, for obvious reasons). The band sounds a lot tighter than on Signify or even The Sky Moves Sideways, and that shows in the quality of the arrangements, the beautiful sound textures and sonic landscapes they evoke and the general feel of a great experience lived conveyed by the album once it ends. Steven Wilson presents here some great vocal performances, still developing (they will get better) and probably his best guitar work to date. In fact, every single member of the band is at the top of his game on this album. From a progressive rock point of view, Stupid Dream manages to reach out to a wider audience while still being faithful to the standards of experimentation and musical breakthrough that characterize prog. It's easy-listening Prog, and it sounds great, getting better by the minute.

Report this review (#135991)
Posted Monday, September 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.5 Stars

A nice effort here by Wilson & Co, easily their best studio album. What they've done here is find some decent middle ground between their psychedelic past and rocky future. Most of the songs clock in at around 5:00, the longest at 8:30. Highlights are "Even Less" and "Piano Lessons".

A perfect introduction to the Tree, and recommended to both fans and newcomers to modern prog.

Report this review (#140408)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Porcupine Tree" is not my favourite band but I have liked most of their albums (rated with three stars for the majority). So, what's up with this "Stupid Dream" ?

A very good and diverse opening number : spacey intro, hard to heavy riffs, cristal clear vocals, symphonic mood. "Even Less" holds it all. Could this be the launch a very good "PT" album ? It sounds so during "Piano Lessons" as well. A bit on the poppy side of their repertoire, featuring a sweet and candid melody. Nice and fresh.

I don't know if this has something to do with its title, but "Pure Narcotic" just makes me feel asleep. A soft acoustic ballad. Too soft. "Baby Dream" is also very much in this style but it is a better rock ballad. But don't worry this "PT" album also holds : "Slave Called Shiver" which will wake you up. A song that fully belongs to their harder edge. Extremely strong and welcome (like "This Is No Rehearsal").

The second highlight of this album is "Don't Hate Me". Hypnotic atmosphere, melancholic vocals, superb and ambient keyboards. A great song full of psychedelia. More in the vein of their early days songs. Real cool. From the same vein and fully from their classical style, "Stranger By The Minute" is very catchy. Somewhat similar to ""Piano Lessons" I guess. I like it very much.

"PT" brings us back to the most melancholical music with "A Smart Kid". Just vibrant and so emotional. When "PT" creates like this, they are just outstanding. But I can't be as positive about "Tinto Brass". A useless instrumental track which sounds too much as an improv. Shouldn't have sit there while "Stop Swimming", the closing number, is a soft "au revoir".

Again this is a good album. At times brilliant (four songs), but not enough to make it a four star recording. Three then.

Report this review (#140616)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Rain Man
5 stars Released in 1999, 'Stupid Dream' was Porcupine Tree's 5th studio album. Having already established themselves as prog gods within small circles of the prog community through albums such as 'Sky moves Sideways' and 'Voyage 34'. 'Stupid Dream' may have been perceived as a back-step in terms of progression as this was easily their most accessible album to date, at that time. Delivering a mix of upbeat pop with long dark prog songs; this change of direction far from compromised the quality of output. Instead from going to the complex to the relatively more simple style of songs, they make the simple even better without forgetting their progressive roots.

This album is one of those landmark albums in my life; One which I will never forget. It was a Saturday night in April '99 when my Dad spent the afternoon shopping for CD's in 'Lost in Music' in the West End of Glasgow. It was one of those moments where he heard something in the shop and had to find out who it was was Porcupine Tree's latest album - 'Stupid Dream'. He got chatting to the guy in the shop and found that they were playing in the Cottier Theatre that night which is also in the West End of Glasgow, which really excited him. However he also had a committee night out that night which he was desperate to get out of, but at the same time had no-one to go to the gig with. So he asked me. At first I was reluctant, but eventually he twisted my arm. That gig to this day, is in my top 5 gigs of all time. In turn 'Stupid Dream' is still one of my favourite albums. This album not only got me into Porcupine Tree, but also acted as the gateway for getting into more progressive rock music.

Looking back I can see why this album made such a big impact on me. Before I came across Porcupine Tree I was really into my Indie/rock music such as Ocean Colour Scene, Radiohead and The Bluetones. On 'Stupid Dream', some of the songs do have an indie sound such as 'Pure Narcotic' and 'Piano Lessons. While there is also the longer efforts which venture more into prog rock territory. Therefore I feel this album acts as a ferry boat, shipping people from mainland indie/rock over to Prog Rock Island.

The album itself kicks off with 'Even Less' which is one of the darker, more progressive songs on the album. Right from the opening vocals, "A body is washed up on a Norfolk beach, he was a friend but I could not reach." It was apparent that this is just the start of what I consider to be the best lyrics to any album I have ever listened to. Another example from this song, which is one of my personal favourites: 'Some of us are left to fend for ourselves; others are born to stack shelves." Then there's a killer riff that adds such intensity and passion to the song. As the song is quite mellow until this riff kicks in just after the chorus. It is as if a volcano's erupted every time it comes on.

After this song, the rest of the album is predominantly set on the more mellow side. Some of the songs have such a warm and uplifting feeling to them that every time I listen to these songs I give off a sigh, as it is so relaxing. In particular, 'Pure Narcotic', where piano, acoustic guitar and light drumming are used to create a majestic melody. Again Wilson is on fine lyrical form with: 'You keep me hating; you keep me listening to the bends'. Now I may be bias because "The Bends" is my favourite Radiohead album, but all the same a genius lyric. I do find this song a bit weird because the lyrics are quite depressing but the joyous melody acts as a kind of counter-balance creating equilibrium. All the same a wonderful song and one which many artists during the 90s were attempting to make but never really achieved the same standard as this attempt.

One of the biggest shocks of the album came when I first listened to 'Piano lessons' and to my surprise it was a piano driven song! Seriously though, this is excellent. The core of the song focuses around a fantastic piano riff which creates a magically chirpy atmosphere. Once again Wilson's lyrical display is on fine form with:

I remember piano lessons The hours in freezing rooms Cruel ears and tiny hands Destroying timeless tunes

I like the last line especially as its one of those statements which someone makes and the only real response you can give 99% of the time is "It's so true!" I think what lyric shows along with many others, is that Wilson uses his lyrics to get across his thoughts and ideas on the world. To me he comes across as being not only a gifted songwriter and musician but also an extremely intelligent human being who thinks before he speaks.

Overall this is an incredible album; firmly cementing its place in my top ten albums of all time. Having owned the album for eight years now, there is still not a single track which I am fed up with yet. The song writing is on a different planet, the melodies are refreshingly enriching and Porcupine Tree in my opinion touched greatness with this effort. I have to say, prog still comes second to indie/rock music in terms of preference. But any time I do want to go on a holiday to Prog Island, I always take the 'Stupid Dream' ferry boat and I recommend you do the same! Who knows I may end up living there some day..

Report this review (#148474)
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Whereas most current progressive rock bands do not come that much further than replicating the music of the 70s, Porcupine Tree was and is one of those bands where the word 'progressive' might be taken quite literally. On their way from more ambient and space rock oriented records like Up The Downstair, a more poppy route was taken from Signify on, but it's not until Stupid Dream that everything really comes together. Radiohead is a really obvious influence (The Bends as well as OK Computer, although only the former is directly alluded to during the album), but Steven Wilson really manages to make it his own thing.

The record does not have many extreme peaks, but that's mostly its strength: the songs are of a constant, very high level. Most songs are more in alternative rock vein than in classic prog. Tracks like Piano Lessons, Pure Narcotic, Baby Dream In Cellophane and Stranger By The Minute come close to pure pop, but it's pop at the highest level. Opener Even Less is a rocker of sorts. The later "Recordings" record would show an "unedited" version (lasting about 14 minutes instead of 7), but having known this version the longest, this really feels like the definitive version to me.

As a centerpoint in the PT discography, this album also points a bit at where the band would go in the near future: Don't Hate Me is the type of neo-psychedelica that would also fit the longer songs on follower Lightbulb Sun. The climax of Tinto Brass points a bit in the direction of In Absentia and further.

Porcupine Tree is a very interesting band that has taken a lot of different directions in less than twenty years, but this record is their definitive gem. Not only PT's best, but one of the best prog albums of the 90s overall.

Report this review (#148789)
Posted Sunday, November 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupine Tree is one of my favorite bands, and I'd have to say this is my favorite album by them. The melodies on this album are just so catchy, Even Less, Piano Lessons, Pure Narcotic, This Is No Rehearsal, and A Smart Kid are my favorites. If you like this album, get In Absentia and Deadwing; their other two best.
Report this review (#149323)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars A brilliant synthesis of accessible and artistic sounds make "Stupid Dream"-- honestly-- one of the most enjoyable albums around. There really is something for everyone here, and I often "Stupid Dream" as an introduction to the world of contemporary progressive music for just that reason; Wilson and company slither between, around, through, and inside a dozen different genres, and-- with the band's fine playing and songwriting talents-- create an album which is very easy to fall in love with.

From the big, bombast of the proggish "Even Less", to the trip-pop melodies of "Piano Lessons" and "Pure Narcotic", the delightfully insidious grooves of "Slave Called Shiver", or the melancholy atmosphere of "Don't Hate Me", the first half of this album alone constitutes some of Porcupine Tree's most interesting and enjoyable work. The second half is of slightly lower quality, but by this point the listener will likely be so captivated by every note the band is playing to notice.

Highly recommended, and a perfect place to begin one's musical journey with this amazing band.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#149480)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just to prove I do think about it, and don't just automatically give every PT album 5 stars, I've only given this 4 - well it should be 4 and a half. I can't help it - I just love Porcupine Tree that every album feels like a masterpiece (and I am following the 5 star guideline) Possibly my least favourite PT album, but I still totally love it - and it truly is excellent and well worth getting.

The only reason I haven't given it 5, is perhaps there's more pop in it than most, although there is still a lot of prog in it.

Well, I say pop, I mean the 3 songs Piano Lessons, Pure Narcotic, and Stranger by the Minute - the 3 singles - which are really so good that they should have given PT fame - and I still don't understand why they didn't - must have been due to radio play. I guess in a way it's a good thing because they have gone on trying and produced the wonderful albums that have followed. These 3 songs are what I would call psychedelic pop (not pop really).

In terms of melodies and Wilson Gilmour-esque guitar solos, in a way this album is the best - the singing is lovely and Richard Barberi's synth stuff is haunting. The melodies are truly fabulous. In a way it's the most acceptable PT album I can play to my wife.

In terms of the more Proggy stuff, Even Less and Don't Hate Me are two of PT's best tracks - superb!

This was a really major change for PT - probably due to becoming a full-on band rather than just Wilson-domination - but it worked.

The two tracks This is no Rehersal and Baby Dream are really gripping - the latter being particularly unusual.

I really like the use of saxophone and flute on the album - how about a bit more of this in the future? Don't HAte Me really has a "Dark Side of the Moon" feel (reminds me a bit of "Us and Them")

In a way this album marks 3 paths that PT could take - the older space rock feel, pstchedelic melodies/ songs, or Prog Metal (yes, the beginnings of metal riffs can be found in this album - personally I really like that, but that's your own choice). The failure of the singles may have lead PT down the more Heavy prog path, but who cares - PT are fabulous at anything they try especially when they are as eclectic as this - being at this cross-roads stage probably the most eclectic of their albums.

By the way - has anyone got a problem with playing those bonus tracks on the 2nd disc - it's really annoying in 5:1 - I simply can't play them. Please, Mr. Wilson - always include a stereo version for those plebs like me that don't have 5:1 surround systems.

Oh well - looks like I've almost talked myself into 5 stars - better stick with the 4, else you'll never believe me that I do think about it!!!

Report this review (#151019)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's really strange with this album. I bought it shortly after it's release, was a lot into PT at the time and I remember I really loved it. Last few years I hardly played it anymore until recently to have another listen for the review and guess what. The enthusiasm was gone but I don't know why. I was actually disappointed about it. Back in 1999 the thing that struck me was the accessability of the album. It's predecessor was Signify and that was quite spacy so I was surprised about the move in style. But I liked it. The first 2 songs were a breath of fresh air to me and I reckoned Don't hate me was almost a masterpiece. The other tracks didn't do too much for me but if I had to judge then I would have given it 4 stars.

At the moment I can't really appreciate it anymore and I have to conclude this album wasn't very perishable. I think it was a kind of a hitalbum, something that fell really nice at that moment but now it's all gone. This isn't my thing anymore, alas. Still 3 stars.

Report this review (#151809)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars After two glorious, galaxy-spanning albums, the space-rock version of PORCUPINE TREE went into hibernation with 'Signify'. Now, after three years, they have re-emerged a quite different beast, having discarded their old psych/space rock skin for the metallic sheen of alt rock. 'Stupid Dream' showcases PORCUPINE TREE as a fully professional, integrated band, rather than STEVEN WILSON's side project, with a very strong set of material.

As with much of what WILSON has been involved in, there is a caveat. If you like your prog on the ragged edge, filled with risk, surprises and originality, go shop elsewhere. But if your shopping list includes words like beauty, glory, harmony, structure and musicianship, you're in the right store. On second thoughts, perhaps there is still an air of space rock here, at least in the synths and guitar fills. Whatever, it's beautiful.

Let's sample the goods. 'Even Less' is a stunner straight out of the box. The main riff is played, then expanded and amplified, the first in what later becomes many PORCUPINE TREE trademark metal-edged rock songs. Stunning riff, beautiful chorus, enigmatic, disturbing lyrics, the PT formula. I have yet to tire of it. Yes, I wish the full 14 minute version of this track had been included, but it is now widely available. This version finishes tamely, but leads into 'Piano Lessons', another clear signal of PT Mark II. Simply beautiful pop. WILSON has transferred that bubbling pop energy he infused NO-MAN with in the early 1990s to this incarnation of PORCUPINE TREE, leaving NO-MAN to become a vehicle for his more minimalist, spacey music. If it wasn't for this band's silly name, 'Piano Lessons' would surely have been a hit.

'Pure Narcotic' is a reflective pop ballad, but somehow, in the context of this album, it becomes more. The production is sharp, the song's placement is clever, and the segue from the short title track serves to integrate it into the wider PT vision. 'Slave Called Shiver' is more experimental, a bass-driven monster with a weird chorus, just what we needed to lift the album from it's pop fixation. 'Don't Hate Me', a largely acoustic number, slows the pace, and is followed by three perfectly formed songs. WILSON has clearly developed a knack for this. 'Stranger By The Minute' is the clearest example of how he can work a hook: the harmonised chorus is beautiful, and the pleasant effect is used on subsequent albums.

The album's highlight is the last three songs, to my mind a suite to be listened to as one. 'A Smart Kid' has such a melancholy melody it's hard to resist immersing yourself in the sound. Here the sound and subject matter reverts to the band's spacey roots, as happens near the end of subsequent PT albums. The song segues into 'Tinto Brass', a startling, ominous instrumental and a feature of PT's live sets. The brakes are off and the band goes into full 'Up The Downstair' mode. 'Stop Swimming' is a complete downer, this album's 'Sleep Together', a page from WILSON's suicide manual, the musical equivalent of a punch to the solar plexus. Subtle, beautiful and bitter, a soundscape of desperation.

In my view, this is the third of four absolutely essential PORCUPINE TREE albums. Just don't listen to it if you need cheering up.

Report this review (#152818)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Stupid Dream. I think that it is quite the opposite actually. This being the first PT album I have listened to and I must say I was very impressed. I think i will only put this album at 4 stars though as this is my first one for this band. The lyrics went very well with the music and the band has performed it so well. I can safely say that I will be purchasing more PT albums and putting reviews about them.

This being only the third review I have done I will try to make the next more in depth.

Report this review (#156932)
Posted Friday, December 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was the album that introduced me to Porcupine Tree on its release back in 1999. Being my first taste of the band I was therefore not one of the fans who had mourned the more streamlined approach the band were now following at the expense of their more Psychedelic experimental phase and could appreciate the album for what it was. That's not to say the band had totally abandoned its original sound, there are still elements of their spacey Psychedelia here, it's just more considered and sweetened with a more commercial Rock edge, which even ventures into Pop in places. In fact I would say that this is the bands most commercial and accessible release to date with many of the songs containing extremely catchy hooks and melodies.

Even Less kicks off the album in fine style with some tastefully played slide guitar before the band pile in with one of their heaviest moments to date though this was of course before Steven Wilson had done his production work with Opeth thus the more metallic influences he gained from that experience are not yet there. Despite the heavy opening Even Less turns out to be a lovely melodic piece though having the subject matter of suicide gives it a melancholic feel.

The quirky Piano Lessons follows and is one of the bands most Pop based songs. Don't let that put you off though, it's a great tune with a melody that's hard to forget. The quality continues through the short segue of Stupid Dream into the strongly acoustic flavour of Pure Narcotic, Porcupine Tree at their most sublime. Slave Called Shiver is less immediate but is still a strong track with some nice sounding Bass from Colin Edwin who together with Drummer Chris Maitland lock into an insistent groove.

At eight and a half minutes Don't Hate Me is the longest track on the album and keeps the quality flowing. It's a laid back piece, again strong on melody with Richard Barbieri's trademark atmospheric Keyboard textures playing a vital role. The sound is also augmented by the use of Flute and Saxophone, the later used for a particularly tasty solo.

This Is No Rehearsal has a some nice Drumming from Maitland with a feel to it that reminds me of Gavin Harrisons future work with the band, though I guess it should be the other way round as Maitland was there first. The quality continues unabated on Baby Dream in Cellophane, another sublime moment with once again much use of acoustic guitars though some contrasting power chords are used to good effect. Stranger By the Minute is another gorgeous melody in an album full of them and one of the best songs here; absolutely brilliant.

A Smart Kid starts off acoustically before building up and though not bad, in such illustrious company is not quite as strong as most of the rest of the album though a lesser band would kill to write songs this good. This is followed by the excellent upbeat instrumental Tinto Brass and finally Stop Swimming, another beautifully melancholic piece bringing the album to a fine close.

Stupid Dream is one of Porcupine Tree's most consistent albums and highly recommended and easily worthy of four and a half stars. Anyone wanting to check them out for the first time could do no better than start here.

Report this review (#158174)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stupid Dream was Porcupine Tree's fifth studio album. Although quite a popular release, Stupid Dream firmly follows the direction that was started on the band's previous album (Signify), that being a more song oriented approach. Wilson himself has been quoted as saying that a major influence on him while writing this album was the music he was listening to at the time, which was much more vocally oriented. Examples he gave included Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, Todd Rundgren, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I guess I can see why this album went in this direction, but I hardly hear any of those influences in Porcupine Tree's music. Instead, what I think Wilson applied was their song arrangement and mapped it onto Porcupine Tree music. The end result being Stupid Dream.

Stupid Dream approaches that gray area where one isn't sure if they're listening to prog or not. It is very radio friendly. Indeed, three singles were released off this album: Piano Lessons, Stranger by the Minute, and Pure Narcotic. However, Porcupine Tree still retains its psychedelic/progressive sound in this song oriented approach. True, it has less instrumental development and experimentation, but when one gives this CD a spin, it clearly still sounds like Porcupine Tree. In many ways, this is probably the best transformation of a band from progressive rock at its best to a commercialized form of progressive rock. Remember Genesis and Yes from the 1980s? I consider Wilson a genius in this regard.

But alas, I still miss the Porcupine Tree from the pre-Signify days. Those long, ambient-driven, spacey compositions will always have a happy adventure in my ears. That's not to say that I don't enjoy this newer, more streamlined version of the group. I enjoy Stupid Dream very much. It's just not as memorable and when we judge progressive rock albums, we often make comparisons to other similar bands or within the band's own catalogue. Stupid Dream just doesn't compare with The Sky Moves Sideways or Up the Downstair.

If you're new to progressive rock and are hesitant about taking a deep plunge, but would rather progress slowly into it, Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream might be a good place to start because it's very accessible, yet retains enough to justify it as progressive rock even though it's very much in that gray area. At best, three stars for a good, though not really essential work.

Report this review (#158654)
Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album seems to be a bit eclipsed by its successors but it is by no means neclegtable. All songs are beautifully crafted, the majority is in the lighter vein. There is not a single weak track on it, though sometimes it might get a little to poppy. IMHO the essential songs are EVEN LESS; DON'T HATE ME ; TINTO BRASS; STOP SWIMMING and with slight reservation A SMART KID. It's obvious that Coma Divine marked the end of an era and PT wanted to do something else. So this like the embryonic PT that came into full bloom with In Absentia and Deadwing. If you like these, you shouldn't miss this one. But careful, you might have to be picky with the songs. 4 stars.
Report this review (#162466)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree - 'Stupid Dream' 4.5 stars

This dream was stupid?

As Porcupine Tree keeps progressing their traditional Floyd sound, continually making albums for the most part stronger, comes out with a near flawless release. Out of the five studio albums, 'Stupid Dream' sticks out the most in compositional structure. There are very few loose and spacey sections for freedom and improv. The only real spaced out sections were in 'Even Less' and 'Don't Hate Me'.

Yet again, the line-up is still the same. Wilson (vocals, guitar, piano and samples), Colin Edwin (bass), Richard Barbieri (synths, Hammond and mellotron) and Chris Maitland (Drums and Percussion). On this album, all the music is written by Steven Wilson except for 'Tinto Brass', which is written by Porcupine Tree. The lyrics on this album are written from Steven Wilson's personal point of view.

As I stated in the introduction, this album lacks the space and atmosphere of the other releases. There is no over indulgence in the instrumentals and there is a more 'pop' approach, though it is nowhere near radio-friendly status. The instrumental work is the tightest thus far in the band, especially in the guitar work. The sound is more 'raw' and less produced with effects and such. The focal point of the make-up to this album is in the compositional aspect. The listener gets the feeling that this album has been carefully calculated and is not as 'free' as the previous ones.

'Even Less' - Has a short atmospheric intro until the guitar comes in. A thoughtful combination of delay and slide guitar is used to make a nice lead which is also a pretty short fill. The verse quickly comes in with a harsh distorted sound, not too many effects here, the beginning of Porcupine Tree's true 'hard rock' influence is apparent here. The lyrics here are quite cryptic but fitting to the music. The song eventually makes its way to the guitar solo with the rhythm in the background hitting power chords at the beginning of every measure. One of many Porcupine Tree classics created on this album.

'Piano Lessons' - This was quite the interesting song. 'Piano Lessons' is a pretty commercial song, containing a slow typical drum beat and a major (happy) piano line going over with some acoustic in the background. The verse is also quite catchy and in the same vein. The song doesn't mark any progress like the others. It wasn't a bad track, but was clearly outdone but most of the other songs on the album. Anyone can find the video to this song, so check it out. Just don't expect to get the sound of this album out of it.

'Stupid Dream' - The title track is a 28 second sampled piece. The song sound very similar to the beginning of 'Even Less' and 'A Smart Kid'.

'Pure Narcotic' - This has similar instrumentation to 'Piano Lessons'. However, this song lacks to happy- poppish vein. The catchy chorus still remains though. 'Slave Called Shiver' - Even though I don't think this is one of Porcupine Tree's better songs, I think this was highly influential on later outputs. There was a scarce amount of Colin's signature bass sound with drum accompaniment while Wilson sings. The problem with this track is repetition of some lines hand-in-hand with a slow drone like tempo. The song does get better at the end with a sweet jam. Wilson's typical hard rock riff mixed with bombastic drums and a synth solo topping everything over.

'Don't Hate Me' - This song is an ode to old Porcupine Tree. There is a lot of space in this song especially towards the end. The intro guitar riff is repeated with a slow beat in the background until the chorus. The drum work remains consistent with some nice broken down chords by Wilson with some lyrics sung passionately. At the three minute mark the music enters free mode. There is a flute solo, sax solo and then ambience for a good 3 minutes. The drum beat comes back in leading right into the chorus again. A complementary guitar solo is put into the end, a beautiful track it was.

'This is No Rehearsal' - Another track similar to 'Piano Lessons'. The chorus is the only real highlight with some octaves played with a nice synth line going over the top. Another slightly weaker track then the rest.

'Baby Dream in Cellophane' - A really haunting intro is done on the synthesizer with some vocal work done in a very psychedelic nature. The intro and chorus is almost entirely done by the acoustic, only with some background synth work. There a lots of vocal harmonies and duets in this one.

'Stranger by the Minute' - Yet another one of those happy tracks. The vocals in this song are just about perfect and carry the music nicely. The guitar work is very similar to the early Porcupine Tree sound. The chorus is another catchy one. This track is just about in the middle for this album.

'A Smart Kid' - This is one of the best tracks on the album. The 'Stupid Dream' track opens it in the beginning. An acoustic guitar is in charge of the intro, but at the end of the measure an acoustic piano is in harmony with it. The chorus has some long delayed guitar effects with some great captivating vocal work. Another excellent guitar solo is played, complimentary to the song that was played before it. The acoustic guitar closes the track out. This is one of my favorite Porcupine Tree tracks.

'Tinto Brass' - Since this was the only track written by the band, you could assume what it would sound like. The drums are faster in this one and tons of samples are added in. The synthesizer is completely devoid of anything that sounds like a piano. Out of nowhere, a heavy guitar riff gives it the feeling that it is the chorus section. The two different sections are played again but in different forms, since this sounded like an improvised piece.

'Stop Swimming' - Not as good of a closer as the masterful 'Dark Matter'.but what can one expect? Wilson seems to develop a knack later in the career to write awesome closers. Slow drums and acoustic piano chords are thrown in at the beginning of each measure. The song doesn't stretch to far from that, but it was meant to be that way. Just capturing the emotion through words was the purpose. A great closer it was.

'Stupid Dream' was nearly a perfect album. It really has so many Porcupine Tree classics on it. The only downside was a few tracks that just weren't up to snuff, mostly the ones that just contained the poppish feel of 'Piano Lessons' that started to get a little stale.

Report this review (#164606)
Posted Saturday, March 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars A good album, but not amongst PT's best works. Although Supid Dream has some great songs, it isnt a very balanced album, alternating between amazing tracks like A Smart Kid or Pure Narcotic and boring, go-nowere songs like Tinto Brass and Slave Called Shiver. Compared to PT's recent works this one is more relaxed and mellow, as the hard distortion driven guitars seen since In Absentia had not been introduced yet, but dont let that put you off, the atmosphere created by this album although serene is pretty intense, and you can feel that PT magic working through your emotions, but sometimes all goes into flatline and suddenly you fell asleep due to the lack of real dinamics and diversity throughout the album.

Overall it is an ok album, but it doesnt catch you all the way through like other PT albums do, maybe its because i'm used to more diverse albums by the band, or that i'm not that mutch into the more spacey prog thing they do.

Report this review (#167204)
Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Stupid Dream is quite possibly Porcupine Tree's weakest this side of Up the Downstair and least dynamic next only to its predecessor, Lightbulb Sun.

It's not a bad album, not really. The musicianship is in fine form, the atmosphere moody and sometimes creepy, and the production as fine as always. The style of music here is some form of rock, not really quite the hard rock and metal that will appear in consequent albums, though for the most part not entirely pop/rock either. A lot of the psychedelic and ambient music has drained from the band by this point, turning them into a, for all intents and purposes, temporary band. They are certainly stronger before and after. That is not to say that this album does not hold value. Any fan of Porcupine Tree's music will certainly be at home here, especially those who prefer Lightbulb Sun's simplistic style. Most of the songs are soft and slow, somewhat in the space rock vein. Several of the tracks available on this release have become Porcupine Tree live classics and fan favorites, though even so it still features a lot of mediocrity mixed in with the more clever and creative tunes to be found in here.

The album opens with its strongest track, Even Less. Though only half the actual song (the other half is available on the rare B-side album Recordings), this track still moves forward with a haunting vocal line and a powerful instrumental chorus. The last minutes are a slowly fading piece over a pulsing bass, leading into Piano Lessons. Incidentally, as the name would imply, this track is mostly centered around a piano. Some simplistic chords and a catchy chorus make this song a fun one but not a lasting gem. Stupid Dream is simply filler that turns Piano Lessons into Pure Narcotic, a mostly acoustic track quite similar to Piano Lessons except with a slower pace and a slightly more mature melody. Slave Called Shiver is a strange one, combining dark piano together with a blazing bass line. Creepy vocal lines turn this song into one of the more interesting ones available on Stupid Dream. A quiet beginning creates Don't Hate Me, a long and slow song with some pitiful lyrics. The strings and atmosphere make this song impressive but not very exciting.

This Is No Rehearsal begins like Pure Narcotic with some strummed acoustic guitars and a vocal line from Wilson, but in the end, there is little different about this song until the post-chorus, which is one of the heavier and more exciting guitar moments on the album. Dark mood marks the entirety of the next song, Baby Dream in Cellopane. Some harmonies and vocal interplay towards the end save this track from being a complete drag on the album. Stranger by the Minute is in the vein of Piano Lessons, and is just another upbeat pop/rock tune. A Smart Kid is a common live staple, pushing forward slowly and not moving very much of anywhere. It would be more impressive if there were more of a difference between this track and all the others on the album before it, but by this point, A Smart Kid just feels like a different version of the same music that's been most of the album to this point. Tinto Brass then enters, promising to change things with an instrumental tag and a somewhat peppy psychedelic interlude quite reminiscent of The Sky Moves Sideways (and featuring Theo Travis, too, in one of the more impressive performances on the album). However, this is too little too late, and the last track, Stop Swimming, buries the album with its bland and soft sloth.

Though the album starts out interestingly, it does not go anywhere, and it does not try enough to garner any more than two stars on a prog website. Even in simple comparison with other Porcupine Tree or Steven Wilson-related projects, Stupid Dream comes up substandard and unimpressive.

Report this review (#168629)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The fifth studio album from Porcupine Tree called Stupid Dream is a change in course for the band. The more vers chorus song approach had already started on their previous album Signify which was released three years before Stupid Dream, but on Stupid Dream the change is complete.

The music is slow to mid paced atmospheric prog rock. The songs are generally memorable and nice to listen to. Songs like Even Less and Don't Hate Me stand out a bit for having longer instrumental parts and Tinto Brass for being purely instrumental. All other songs including Even Less and Don´t Hate Me have vocals which means that Stupid Dream doesn´t seem as progressive in sound as Porcupine Tree´s earlier efforts. Steven Wilson´s Blackfield project is not far from the more simple songs on Stupid Dream.

The musicianship is good, but there are not many challenging parts on the album.

The production is great. A typical high quality Steven Wilson sound.

Stupid Dream is the best Porcupine Tree album I have heard so far ( I have started from an end with their first album and continued chronologically) even though Signify and The Sky Moved Sideways was a bit more challenging. I´ll rate Stupid Dream 3 stars because I think it´s a good album, but it´s not excellent. I´m entertained but not excited beyond average. I still have a hard time finding out why people rate Porcupine Tree´s albums as high as they do, because quite frankly I think the five albums I have heard so far are very average prog rock albums. I hope to be positively surprised by some of their later releases.

Report this review (#173677)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars More melodic and ecstatic than previous albums, Stupid Dream is without doubt an excellent psychedelic rock record and the pattern for the following album - Lightbulb Sun. Having reviewed the 2000 release earlier, most of the things that I had to say were written there. However, Stupid Dream doesn't lack innovations in the music of Porcupine Tree. Steven Wilson is a faultless producer and this album stands for that. There's a great clarity in the music, quality which is difficultly tangible since Porcupine Tree is a band that focuses more on textures, samples and effects rather than classical instrument play. But that's not to say Porcupine Tree is an electronica band, they seem to find the balance between good compositions and great sound engineering in a way that both of them are equally important. For a group that has it's way with synth keys and samplers there's always this tendency of letting the unconventional sounds flow around the musical atmosphere without disturbing them or playing them on keys. (or whatever other instrument). Appreciable at Porcupine Tree is the fact that they do the exact opposite thing. Many songs, like Don't Hate Me, have the structure of a jazz improvisation although no one plays anything very related to jazz. The song begins with the bass playing it's repetitive sequence and, as the song progresses, more and more elements are added, these elements not being simple sounds but engineered sounds that are used on the keyboard so that the band may play them as you play a classical piano. As mentioned earlier, there's nothing new about this method, it's the way Porcupine Tree do it. It's not a matter of technical experimentation, but a matter of quality. Although not e genuine hard rock band, Porcupine Tree has great hard rock riffs, although not a industrial band, Porcupine Tree has the greatest samples, although not a drum and bass band, Porcupine Tree has a fascinating bass - drums collaboration. What I don't particularly enjoy about Stupid Dream is the vocals. Not that Wilson has a bad technique, I just don't like his voice that much.

Pink Floyd is a big influence for Porcupine Tree and Porcupine Tree is also influential for bands like Riverside and Opeth.

4 stars for this one, I was expecting more complexity in the song writing and more guts (yes, they seem rather shy when they must take the lead with their instruments, the quality of the sound being higher than the quality of the execution).

Report this review (#176967)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Something in the air

Ok I've spent alot of time listening this, like 5 days or so... all to be sure to make a good review, after these 5 days I can be sure of 2 things: I still like it and it's not a full-prog album. After this introduction let's see the album... we have 12 songs (11 and a 24 sec track to be exact) 2 instrumentals and 10 song to sing, I say to sing 'cause there's not an istrumental part, not even in the 8-and-half minute Don't Hate Me where from the half of the song we have a good sax and some guitars, so why I like it?

Answer: It seems to be the last album of the old-psychedelic-PT, or at least a change in their kind of music. Wilson here talk about his career, about the way to become a musician and he makes trought these 12 song from Even Less (when he talks about his friend) to Stop Swimming (where he ask to himself if it isn't better to stop, Maybe it's time to find out where I'm at), from here we have a redundance of chorus on every song (exactly where it would be the music) that makes the songs perfect to sing while driving (yep maybe this is the best way to fit it) or for tidy up the home... anyway we have a strong PT album with good tunes and exactly sequel of Signify (at least in atmosphere), even if we lost the ambience, the small lyrics parts and the strong composition to gain some of the best lyrics from Wilson and the impression that the voice is like an extension of the instruments (the beginning of A Smart Kid make the point, even if the song is nothing special taken alone), the instrumental Tinto Brass is a complex part where we see something that we'll lose in the next albums: a strong pyschedelic track that reminds me some of the dark parts of King Crimson's last albums, while Stupid Dream is the last Signify-like passage of PT, lost too in the future albums

In the complex a good album, not a masterpiece and not even the first album of PT to listen, but in the complete picture of their career is a good step and worth the 5 days spent on it. 4/5 for this not-so-stupid dream and no bonus, sorry Wilson u got nothing special if I don't mention the 5 days spent to be able to understand it.

Report this review (#190517)
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I can see why alot of ProgArchives members have a problem with this band and especially this album. I'll be the first to admit, there are times during this band's albums where you could swear you were listening to Top40 pop radio and Stupid Dream is no different. To be honest, as a whole it is their most accesable and pop sounding record to date, but that is why I love it. Not everything has to be a 20 minute progfest, Which is what Fear of a Blank Planet is for.

Theres nothing wrong with a little melody and catchiness from time to time and this is what makes Stupid Dream so special to me. Every song seems like it was written to be a massive hit single, with maybe the exception of Don't Hate Me which is still an amazing peice of music complete with a beautiful saxophone solo. I love having that one album on my CD shelf I can go and pull out, knowing im not going to have to sit through a long drawn out song or a blistering heavy section. This album is good for the slower days of life.

Report this review (#203616)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Probably not very Stupid Dream, but this album is a step back for Porcupine Tree. Probably the popiest album by the band. There is little pause between the previous and this release and everything here is so vocal-oriented and not enough progressive. Piano Lessons is standing out as the leading song of the album and probably if the band have been more commercial, it could be big radio and MTV hit. It is sounding like that kind of music. Pleasant song! Everything on the album is darker, depressing and slow-constructed. Bass is strongly underlined! One of my not so favourite Porcupine Tree's albums, but not hated, too (there is only one I hate - The Sky Moves Sideways). Recommended for artists and people with artistic inclinations!
Report this review (#204275)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
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'!


Report this review (#212376)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars I totally love this album! The excellent music of Porcupine Tree mixed with the Floydian concept is a recipe for delight. Although more pop influenced than other albums they still maintain the healthy dose of prog in each song. Piano Lessons is one of my favorite tracks mainly because of how catchy it is, but after listening to the lyrics a couple times, you realize the overarching theme of the album so it is an important track. Pure Narcotic is a very nice track, the lyrical theme bringing to mind the late Syd Barrett. Don't Hate Me's sax solo is a big highlight and This Is No Rehearsal and Stranger By the Minute are two good catchy tracks. Tinto Brass is a superb instrumental that captured my heart at first listen. So overall, although this album is at times leaning toward mainstream rock, Porcupine Tree has still made an album that I love every time I listen.
Report this review (#228763)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first album of Porcupine Tree that I have bought and by accident it is the last. i would like also to buy 'Deadwing','In Absentia' and 'Fear of a Blank Planet' which I have heard. This period of the aforementioned albums suits me better because they have a more heavy sound without lacking complexity. 'Stupid Dream' is softer but it has an at least adequate quality. There are many songs that are very nice such as Even Less,Piano Lessons, Slave Called Shiver, Babydream In Cellophane, Don't Hate Me and my favorite Tinto Brass. An intellectual progressive stuff along with atmospherical parts and some mellow tones. It is a very good release with definitely good music but due to the lack of harder parts like those found after the 'In Absentia' albums(including 'In Absentia') I cannot rate it with 5 stars. But generally it is an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Report this review (#229383)
Posted Saturday, August 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is Porcupine Tree's unsung hero album, too often neglected by the "latest release" aficionados, who forget that this was another great leap forward from the majestic "Signify" and its live companion "Coma Divine". Steven Wilson wastes little dilly-dally in getting the message across in grand fashion hurling the oppressively brilliant "Even Less", a true PTree standard played at each of their concerts to this day. Yes ladies, it's that spectacular! A rushing riff pummeled forward by that steamroller rhythm section, some suave singing in that desperately apathetic voice and a miraculous guitar launch that exudes all the power and rage of social alienation. Great here, even greater live, I assure you! "Piano Lessons" has a pretty psychedelic Donovan quality to it , poppy weirdness allied with hushing beauty , a prog ballad with that unique British feel for the oblique, a groovy guitar fill decorating the whole. The title cut is very short electro blip and then we have the pastoral "Pure Narcotic" that hints at Anthony Phillips whilst fragile and whimsical, a good but not great track. "Slave Called Shiver" has that patented Colin Edwin-led bass groove that worms through the doom and gloom, pushing the plastic sonics and the jaded voice along. Tossing in a few Beatles-ish quotes ("More followers than Jesus Christ") and a lashing Wilson guitar rampage that devastates with impunity, the bass still rumbling audaciously, this is another classic and amazing live. In my opinion, this is way better than the poppier melancholics they like to mix into the stew. The monumental "Don't Hate Me" is another unparalleled PT jewel, a spacier mood with punchy drums, very arid at first only to better explode with a genius theme, a melody achingly painful , a wounded soul looking for some kind of empathy. The chorus is simply to die for, like a shining star in the cosmic universe, leading to a stunning Theo Travis flute and then sax solo, giving this a plethora of convulsive blush that wanders deep into the psyche. Amazing live as well! The next tracks can only pale in comparison, "This is no Rehearsal" being a jaunty issue with a wah-drenched axe solo that shivers and twitches. "Baby Dream in Cellophane" is very Fab Four reminding us that all Steve Wilson songs have a John Lennon tinge, lest we forget; forever flirting with the outskirts of breezy psychedelia. "Stranger by the Minute" is in the same vein, a solid melody on a simple carousel with some snazzy guitar solos and some smart lyrics. "A Smart Kid" is a somber tune floundering in minimalistic simplicity, Wilson's resonating and cool voice showcased as a weapon of sheer construction, different tones at will seemingly. The man can sing, heavy breathing and all but supplies a superb axe solo once again. The ominous "Tinto Brass" is a welcome return to the highway star riffery they do so well, Edwin buzzing intensely and Maitland pounding energetically, flute flutterings at 12 o'clock high and sibilant synths paving the way for some turbo-charged guitar slashes. Darn good music, this! "Stop Swimming" is another occasional live standard, a slow crawl build-up to a fabulous lyrical observation, hurting words and sorrowful souls collide in obvious copulation, hungry for another embrace. The notable instrumental restraint is utterly indescribable, synth heavy and impenetrable, the forlorn voice doing all the damage until the inevitable scream bellows from the inner self, an uncontrolled vortex of upward spiraling harmony. The only thing I cannot fathom with Wilson is why is there only one DVD of their live experience out there? Is he like Fripp when it comes to cameras in a concert hall, or what? 4.5 Idiotic delusions
Report this review (#251068)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm going to do this review as I listen to the record, and am going to split it up into three parts, the pre-listen, the listen, and the post-listen.

Pre-Listen: I already know this record, its my favorite PT record, but now i'm going to give it my full attention, and pay attention to every little detail and try to give the best review possible. I am going to review the 5.1 surround sound version, so the sound quality will be amazing. Here we go.


1. Even Less: Great album opener, nice fade in, beautiful slide guitar. Nice melody throughout the song. Very simple, easy to understand. Nice piano, with interesting ambient sound in the background. Great vocal harmonys on the track. Ends with a cool keyboard then guitar solo over a sick breakdown. The counting in the end gets slightly annoying. Amazing song. 5/5

2. Piano Lessons: Nice short, poppy, kind of psychedelic song. More great slide guitar. The chorus is filled with lots of nice vocal harmonys. Simple track, nothing too complicated. Good single for the album. 4.5/5

3. Stupid Dream: Short filler, flows nicely into Pure Narcotic. No rating.

4. Pure Narcotic: Another beautiful song, great use of a glockenspiel in it. Beautiful vocals, keys, and slide guitar (yet again). Another simple song, but has more variety than Piano Lessons. One of my favorites. 5/5

5. Slave Called Shiver: Sweet bass line, and the drums compliment it perfectly. The only thing is is that it's a bit repetitive, another track that I think might benefit from some more parts. Very cool vocal line though, its simplicity is nice. 4/5

6. Don't Hate Me: Starts with a nice guitar melody, another beautiful song. The vocals are beautiful, and the melody is great on all instruments. The flute and sax solos do not seem like something that would work with this track at first, but they fit in very well when you actually hear them happen. One thing is that the guitar/keys breakdown could have been shorter. 4.5/5 7. This Is No Rehearsal: Nice up-tempo song. Cool acoustic guitar part, and the vocals are really great. I really like the post-chorus, the fast part.. Great song overall, very short and simple, just a great song. 5/5

8. Baby Dream in Cellophane: This is a pretty trippy song, kinda feels like the old PT, but not so much so that you will think this belongs on Signify, it still feels like Stupid Dream. Overall very good song, but gets kinda boring after a while. 4/5

9. Stranger By The Minute: Another song of pure greatness, this is one of the best tracks on the disc, and it doesn't get much better than this. You can easily tell why this was released as a single. The vocals on this song are great, they fit perfectly. The guitar work, and melody are just great. One of the best of the album. 5/5

10. A Smart Kid: This song is also one of the best of the album. Very similar in subject to Radioactive Toy, covering post nuclear war. Its a very beautiful song, but also very depressing. The guitar/keys/vocals all work together very well and the way these work make this one of the best songs on this album. The vocals are pure beauty. This is a work of art. 5/5

11. Tinto Brass: Starts with a biography on Tinto Brass in Japanese, then the driving drum beat kicks in. Then an interesting flute part, you can tell this is going to be the most experimental song on the album. Nice bass/guitar melody. Cool flute solo, more interesting instrumentation. A much heavier riff soon kicks in, then the song breaks down. Very cool song overall, nice instrumental for the album. 5/5

12. Stop Swimming: Beautiful vocals and keys in the intro. Very sad song. Its very easy to space out during this song, it just flows very well. Slightly repetitive, but it works well for this kind of song. Not to much to say about it though. 4/5

Post-Listen: This is a great album, with its only drawback being that its kind of repetitive. That is a very easy problem to get past though, and this is an amazing experience otherwise. I recommend this to anyone who wants to get into PT.

Standout Songs: Even Less, Pure Narcotic, Stranger By the Minute, A Smart Kid, Tinto Brass.

Good Songs: All of the rest.

Final Verdict: 5 Stars (4.63)

Report this review (#263202)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I remember all too well when I first exposed myself to Stupid Dream, Porcupine Tree's fifth 'official' full-length offering, some ten years ago - and it left me rather uncomfortably indifferent. My appreciation for it came no further than a meek 'nice'. Perhaps I expected more Floydian- like stuff à la The Sky Moves Sideways and Signify, and wasn't yet ready for what-would-be-coming-beyond?

Ten years and some thirty+-PT-concerts later, I have to conclude that Stupid Dream (together with its follow-up Lightbulb Sun ) was indeed a transitional record - a departure from the earlier Floydian 'soundscapes' (even while those still occasionally appear), heading more towards simple (deceivingly so!) pop song-like structures - eventually, ultimately defining Porcupine Tree's unique and original sound. Though still a rather underrated album among the PT catalogue, Stupid Dream is indeed a genuine masterpiece, and as such the blueprint to the highly acclaimed, latter day PT-successes like, for instance, In Absentia.

In 1998/1999, PT was still a 'underground'-act, a band I could go and see perform live in the smaller clubs at least a couple of times each year in The Netherlands, in small, intimate venues. But even then, it was pretty obvious that this band was truly heading for Big Time, and I harbour no doubts that Mr. Steven Wilson was very aware of that himself at that time.

If anything, I think that Stupid Dream illustrates that Wilson very well realized that his decision of a couple of years earlier, to exchange his comfortable, well-paid job as a computer scientist for that of the risky, insecure status of a full-time musician, was indeed a very good one - but not without its drawbacks.

Hence the overall theme of Stupid Dream - the indeed 'stupid dream' of making it as a 'rock star' (Wilson himself would laugh at that term). it's not just the stardom, the glamour, the limelight, it's not that Talent-Always-Pays-Off-Freely, just like that - quite the contrary, there's a lot of hard work, loneliness, travelling, missing your loved ones 10 months out of 12 in a year, in short: blood, sweat & tears involved.

Moreover, in order to make it in the music business, the artist will have to deal with something entirely different than just producing his Art, the one major thing he's good at - he'll have to be ready to Go Out and Sell Himself. The 'Miracle of Marketing', so as to say. Or as Mr. S.W. himself puts it in Piano Lessons: "Forget your own agenda, get ready to be sold! - which would be a reoccurring theme in his later work.

Textually, Stupid Dream deals with Steven Wilson's personal insecurities about this matter, which makes this album even more appealing, as I think all of us can recognize elements of the burden of having to sell your soul in order to achieve your - indeed - 'stupid dream' of a goal, whatever it may be.

Some additional individual notes about the songs on this album -

Opener Even Less - a bunch of overdubbed orchestral synthesizer sounds form the intro to a very Floydian guitar-riff, very melancholic lyrics - Wilson comparing the fate of a suicide committer to the completely 'useless' things a musician does - "And I may just waste away from doing nothing - but you're a martyr for Even Less" - culminating into a truly FANTASTIC guitar solo. No surprise that many PT-fans hail this song among their best ever. Fortunately, the reissue of the album has included the full 15- minute version of this masterpiece, worth a five-star rating for the entire album in itself.

Piano Lessons offers the entire theme of the album comprised into just one song. A very simple, catchy tune (you might even call it 'pop') fittingly starting off with a very low-key piano tune, only to culminate in a trademark PT-track, with screaming guitars and multi-layered vocals. The song's lyrics are worth a review on their own - Steven in Self- Mockery-Overdrive, disputing his talents, ridiculing his laziness in practicing, and even comparing himself with Christine Keeler (a prostitute who became 'famous' because of the 1960's Profumo Scandal) in trying to 'sell' himself as an artist - a.k.a., a complete mockery of the entire Music Marketing Industry. Priceless. Even if the song itself were s**t - which it isn't at all - I'd still cherish it because of the brilliant, highly sarcastic lyrics.

The title track, Stupid Dream, is a hardly noticeable, 28-sec synthesizer intermezzo. I guess Steven did this just to show how 'stupid' this Stupid Dream indeed is. He's got that snarky sense of humour, as anyone should know by now.

Pure Narcotic A very gentle melodic song, acoustic guitars and piano, accompanying Wilson's gentle singing. It's just a guess of mine - it's about a failed relationship? "You have me distant and estranged..." There's a lot more happening over here though and it might well be something rather creepy. "I'm sorry, that I'm not like you...." Beautiful harmonics midway this song between acoustic guitar, glockenspiel and keys. Wonderful. One of the best songs on this album.

Slave Called Shiver Intro by Colin Edwin's gorgeous bass combined with some very straight-forward but on-the- spot drumming by Chris Maitland. A very groovy tune, indeed. Wilson's slightly distorted vocals add up to the creepy atmosphere - "I'll have more followers than Jesus Christ...!" Ends up with an industrial-tinted, heavy instrumental jam. Great work on the wah-wah pedals from Wilson. A clear sign of what was about to come on next albums. Heavy stuff.

Don't Hate Me The ultimate JEM of the album, imho. Starting off with an intro on acoustic guitar, accompanied by Richard Barbieri's eerie sounds on his keyboards/computers, it culminates into a true highlight in Wilson's/PT's entire discography. Depressive, creepy, but highly enchanting. Great straight-forward drumming by Chris Maitland again. Is this about one of those things that comes with 'stardom', namely 'stalkers' - In all the song emanates deep psychological isolation, loneliness. "Can I call you, on the telephone, now and then?" Absolutely fantastic wind instruments on this one, most notably that solo on the sax - just immaculate.

This Is No Rehearsal Back to the poppier tunes over here, but even so, this one's not one you should allow yourself to miss. Lovely drumming by Maitland, great acoustic guitars and vocals by Wilson. Turns out as a genuine rocker, while still remaining gentle and nice on the whole. Lovely mellotron back-ups as well, only the prelude to some very bluesy distorted soloing by Wilson. This is one of the few songs on the entire album that doesn't has that 'dark' feeling about, and it's a welcome relief from that. To end it all, some very nice straight-forward hard- rocking!

Baby Dream In Cellophane Very atmospheric tune, reminding of PT's older work, "Nine Cats" anyone? - Great vocal harmonies, here. Eerie, atmospherical. Simple tune, but just lovely all the same.

Stranger By The Minute Well here we have Steven Wilson playing Alice-in-Wonderland. And in Wonderland he apparently feels he is, as a 'rock star', 'getting stranger by the minute'. Very melodic sing- along tune, great job by Edwin (that comfortably-sounding distorted bass!) and Maitland, and of course, again a great job on singing and guitar playing by Wilson. Very pleasant - and even funny - lyricism, too. "But you're just fiction, and I'm a twisted boy?" - a true gem.

A Smart Kid Drawback to Old PT Times here. A left-over from 'The Sky Moves' - At least the intro sounds like that. Well soon enough it becomes clear why this song appears on this album. "Stranded on Planet Earth - Not much, but it could be worse - Everything is free here, there's no clowds", as it dissolves in yet one another lovely acoustic/vocal piece, only to end up into one another classical PT piece after the 2-minute mark. A very emotional, very doomy piece, I might even think the term 'gothic' is appropriate for this one. Great job by Barbieri with all of his soundscaping-jobs here.

Tinto Brass The concluding choirs of 'A Smart Kid', as well as the soft voice of a lady talking in Italian in a distorted voice, softly move into what is the heaviest - instrumental - piece on this album - a sheer showcase for both Edwin and Maitland. Here's the band's Heavy Metal attempt on this album, again, a sign of what was about to come in the next step of their career, most notably when Wilson kicks in with his very distorted heavy guitar solo'ing.. It swings, it grooves, and it's HEAVY! - just don't skip it. A truly awesome piece of music!

Stop Swimming If you're thinking about jumping off from a building, this song might just give you that extra push to indeed do so. So eh, just don't... What a depressive feeling it emerges, but even more - how heartbreakingly beautiful. A lovely, soft tune, perfectly sung by Wilson, "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." Chris Maitland drumming's subtle drumming to this song forms the perfect heartbeat to Wilson's sad vocals. A 'song that leaks onto the pavement', indeed, celebrated by his fantastic Floydian guitars in the background. A Grand Final to a genuinely fantastic album.


I apologize for this way too long blabbering piece of text, and sorry for emphasizing on textual interpretations (all too personal I guess), rather than going into technical descriptions about the music itself - but I do believe that if you think an album is indeed worth five stars, you might just well go into extent to explain why. And as such I've given it my best effort.

Even if I'd have some 50 pages to write about this album, I still wouldn't manage to fully describe what this particular album means to me. This is indeed A Stupid Dreamer's Stupid Dream.

"So, I think I'll leave by the window..." ~wink~

A Masterpiece, no doubt about it. Five well-deserved stars!

Report this review (#273814)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, this really is something.

To be honest when I first heard this album, I wasn't completely satisfied with it (maybe I was going through a weird phase), but listening to it for the second time, I really understand how much of a masterpiece it is.

This album is the start of the period of Porcupine Tree when they steered away from the psychedelic factors and strayed towards a more alternative style. Porcupine Tree Mark 2 lets say. It can be argued that The Sky Moves Sideways started it, but I think that this album succeeds the sound.

It's a much underrated masterpiece and some of these songs are the best songs they ever made (one in particular).

1. Even Less - Nice tune up intro. This song is amazing, with a very memorable riff, great lyrics and vocals from Stephen and some amazing mature instrumentals. The end is a bit weird to be honest.

2. Piano Lessons - Amazing pop song. The chorus has some of the best multi layered vocals I have ever heard. The video of this song is a bit weird and Steven looks way too much like Ed Byrne.

3. Stupid Dream - The sound of an orchestra tuning up, basically.

4. Pure Narcotic - Another amazing pop rock song with a great chorus. The lyrics are quite good as well.

5. Slave Called Shiver - One of those weird songs that these guys have. It's not bad, it's actually amazing, but there always is one of these.

6. Don't Hate Me - Does this song have anything to do with Hatesong off of Lightbulb Sun. Great song, goes on a bit, to be honest, but still very feet tingly.

7. This Is No Rehearsal - One of the more folk like songs on the album. Relaxing and very soothing.

8. Baby Dream In Cellophane - The perfect mix of psychedelic and more pop roots, very early Pink Floyd influence.

9. Stranger By The Minute - THE BEST SONG THEY EVER MADE! Really, this song is so beautiful in so many ways. The vocals are the best layered vocals I have ever heard. I always thought that Michael Jackson was the king of multi layered vocals, but Steven Wilson comes a close second. If you haven't heard this song, then you need to hear it. They never played this song live, and they're stupid not to.

10. A Smart Kid - Another psych influenced song. Amazing and very spacey. Apparently it's Mikael from Opeth's favourite song.

11. Tinto Brass - A weird free like jazz instrumental with some amazing flute and saxophone parts.

12. Stop Swimming - A nice but weird end to the album.

CONLCUSION: A very underrated masterpiece. If you have never heard Porcupine Tree before, buy this album, if not the, then defiantly one of their best.

Report this review (#275673)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This album marked a great change in the band's sound and that's never a bad thing when it's in the hands of professionals like Steve Wilson and Richard Barbieri!

I started listening to Porcupine Tree as a part of my preparation for Sweden Rock Festival 2006 where the band would stop by in order to perform a show as a part of their Deadwing-tour. What I didn't know at the time was that Porcupine Tree's caravan was also there to promote the recent re-release of Stupid Dream. During their concert the band did play a few tracks off this album to an overall enthusiasm of the audience. Among the set-list were compositions like Even Less and Don't Hate Me that made enough impression on me to make the purchase of Stupid Dream worth considering.

Unfortunately the complete version of this studio album wasn't as impressive as the live performances would imply and I personally never really could enjoy this material as much as the band's later explorations of the new sound direction. Still, whoever said that a shift in direction would be great from the start? Practice makes perfect and fortunately it didn't take Porcupine Tree too much time to get to the point where their simpler rock sound would become even more successful then their original Space Rock material.

There are a few performances that do make me shake my head in complete disbelief. I'm talking about the weird Tinto Brass and somewhat bland Stop Swimming but they are matched up by melodic upbeat compositions like This Is No Rehearsal and Piano Lessons. Stupid Dream showed us the first steps to what would become a successful transformation of a band on the future album. Although I wouldn't recommend this album to anyone unfamiliar with Porcupine Tree and their more well know albums there is definitely enough material here to satisfy the fanbase. A good, but non-essential release for anyone in need of another fix from the Wilson/Barbieri factory!

***** star songs: Even Less (7:11) This Is No Rehearsal (3:27) Pure Narcotic (5:02)

**** star songs: Piano Lessons (4:21) Stupid Dream (0:28) Slave Called Shiver (4:41) Stranger By The Minute (4:31) A Smart Kid (5:22)

*** star songs: Don't Hate Me (8:30) Baby Dream In Cellophane (3:15) Tinto Brass (6:17) Stop Swimming (6:53)

Report this review (#277804)
Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Stupid Dream is quite a departure from its predecessor Signify. Porcupine Tree had never taken a longer break in between albums and Wilson used the time to pen the material for another string of unbelievable albums: Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun and Recordings.

Stupid Dream is entirely different from the galactic enterprises that preceded. It is an album of acoustic guitar based song writing. It cut down the instrumental parts and by shedding off the space-rock Pink Floyd-isms of Signify, the band established a very personal sound, composed of melancholic rock, ambient atmospherics and a touch of indie rock. Only on a few scattered tracks such as Don't Hate Me still scream Gong from the rooftops. You also won't find the metal flavours that were added to the Porcupine Tree sound from In Absentia onwards.

Wilson has an unsurpassed knack for writing catchy tunes that are both sophisticated and emotive, eschewing the gaudy emo-pop stickiness of Brit-pop. There's only two tracks, Baby Dream In Cellophane and Stranger By The Minute that are too mellow for my taste and where the chord change from the verses to the chorus reminds me too much of conventional pop-song writing. The remainder of the tracks is real genius at work.

Together with Lightbulb Sun, this album marks a short era with a very melancholic and sensitive Porcupine Tree sound. Sitting inbetween the majestic space-rock of the early years and the heavier Prog albums that followed, many fans are ill at ease with these two albums. I can only say that after being with them for 10 years now, they haven't lost any of their appeal. On the contrary, they have only grown to pull my emotional strings over the years. 4.5 stars

Report this review (#279189)
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars What an excellent album, full of surprising and original, other than very fresh sounding. With this album PT start to go a different way, towards a new sound, which will be improved in their following album "Lightbulb Sun" , and completed in " In Absentia". "Stupid Dream" however still sounds very spacy sometimes ( the brief title track, or " Don't Hate Me"), a typical characteristic of the band.

Many songs are great, some are excellent, some are just good; I would like to mention " Piano Lessons", that has a great kick to it and a great melody, very catchy. It is generally an underrated song, don't understand why. "Even less", is quite opposite: it's a bit overrated, and I'm not crazy about some parts of the song, but it's still pretty good. Also, there's the fresh sounding and original " A Slave Called Shiver", "Stranger By the minute", which was also released as a single, the excellent instrumental piece " Tinto Brass"; let's not forget about the mysterious " Baby Dream In a Cellophane", and the even better " This Is No Rehersal", another unbelievably catchy song.

Anyway, an excellent album, worth the listen.

Report this review (#279198)
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Beginning of the peak?

I think most PT fans probably fall into two camps, those who prefer the early spacier stuff and those into the latter day, harder-edged albums. For now my preference has been the middle ground. I believe the band made a good leap on "Stupid Dream" from the inconsistency of "Signify," and then made perhaps their two best albums in "Lightbulb Sun" and "In Absentia." Relax John buddy, I know I still need to hear "Up the Downstair" before I can say that. ;) The 3-album run beginning with Stupid Dream is where the band mixed the heavy prog, metal, and space elements with their most overtly commercial pop sound. Turns out Wilson is as good at pop music hooks and melody as he is at everything else. Right out of the gate "Even Less" shows a certain confidence we didn't hear on the previous album. It would continue with "Piano Lessons" which is one of their poppiest numbers and could easily get airplay anywhere with its lush harmonized vocals and tasty slide leads. "Pure Narcotic" adds in acoustic guitar and piano to another very accessible track. We have the funky track "Slave Called Shiver" to show off the talents of Colin Edwin, though it is tracks like this one that most cry out for some of Harrison's unreal fills. "Don't Hate Me" is the centerpiece track with lots of mood, mellotron, a spicy sax solo by Theo Travis, and a sweet electric solo. There's even a funky space-tronica bit with a flute solo on "Tinto Brass!" The closer "Stop Swimming" is one of those beautiful, slow, moody PT tracks where the piano and narcotic vocal lull you into a bit of haze. "Stupid Dream" is not quite as successful as Lightbulb or In Absentia, but it's reasonably close- a very well-rounded, enjoyable disc and certainly one every fan will need to get to. It's the Wilson brand with more alt-pop/rock feeling, after the cosmic itch was scratched but before the metal edge came into play. While this middle period of PT generally loses the fan polls, where most fans like the space excursions or the metal-edged stuff, I love this unapologetically melodic phase. And this first one from this period is not unlike Rush's "Permanent Waves", maintaining just a bit of what made Rush tick to that point, but alerting fans that big changes were coming.

Report this review (#283617)
Posted Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars What about "Pop music" being popular in Prog?

I started the checking of PT with Deadwing, The Incident and In Absentia. I have being going back to their material trying to get what is so exciting about them that so many prog fans said about this band and it still miss to hit me. I found here a very "popy" album with some kind of catchy vocals and most of the music at the same cold depressive corner that seem to be the common point in each every album of them.

Now, to be fair, any new listener should know that this is a good production, with great quality of sound and atmosphere. The musicians as usual are in top form, Gavin Harrison don't make too much presence in this particular album, which is strange but at the end, keyboards and guitars took control of the production. Steven Wilson keeps doing his usual catchy guitar riffs and it's a good work indeed. The problem is that I don't find too much "prog rock" in general. This can be one of those alternative rock masterpieces indeed and I would kill for hearing this kind of alternative rock, but as prog, I don't find it anywhere and it's tough to be excited in this kind of music.

I'm still missing the point with PT or is it that their music is not meant for me...? I keep asking me that and I should keep checking their albums. To be fair, I don't dislike the album in general, the problem is that I found too many good reviews and many people encourage to hear them and the result is not impressive, not bad but nothing to be so excited about.

I keep feeling Deadwing their strongest album, this one is way better than In Absentia and The Incident, but I don't find anything especially progressive to give it more than what it deserves. 3 stars is very fair.

Report this review (#285088)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars Stupid Pop? Whatever it is, it's good

Stupid Dream is Porcupine Tree's first album to delve all through the alt. rock/pop genre, though it still retains some of the past albums soundscapes, this is essentially a pop album by a previously experimental/psych artist/band.

The band decided to write songs that could appeal to a wider audience, yet its concept (clearly seen in the cover-art) is quite the opposite, with Steven's own words: "....I just had this image of these CDs just coming off this conveyor belt. And obviously it's at complete odds with the music. But I wanted to have this kind of contradictory feel to the color. The bottom line is, the people that get into Porcupine Tree know that we're exactly not the kind of band that ever considers our music in terms of product and shifting units. So I thought it would kind of be fun to put an image on the album which is a comment on that. What could be a more stupid dream than wanting to make music and sell it."

The album is compromised by 12 songs that would settle the foundations where the band would later develop from. There's the melancholic and depressing tunes, then there's the extremely catchy tunes with memorable riffs and melodies, and then you've got the more rockin' pieces that would later be known as 'Blackest Eyes', 'Shallow' and 'Open Car', although Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun are rather metal-less.

To sum it up, it's a collection of alternative rock songs that manages to display the genre at its best; similar to what Radiohead managed to do.

4 stars: I give this album a higher rating than In Absentia since I consider Stupid Dream to be far more consistent with no filler and it's more memorable all through. Steven Wilson's take on pop music is a highly enjoyable ride with a brilliant sense of melody, mood and atmosphere, and Stupid Dream is proof of this. Highly recommended to progressive rock fans who are looking for clever pop music, and obviously this is a must- have for Porcupine Tree fans.

Report this review (#299792)
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Make no mistake Progies. THIS IS NOT POP. This is one of those rare (but growingly plentiful) albums that are so filled with rich texture, that it actually gets better with each and every listen.

Let me begin again by saying, I don't normally write reviews.

Perhaps this review is meant mainly to debunk the common misconception listeners have that this is some sort of a dimented attempt by a prog powerhouse to create pop music. Couldn't be farther from the truth. If you attempted to play this masterpeice on the pop music airwaves, you wouldn't have anything close to more followers than Jesus christ (hehehe). Pop music fans in general, just don't like this sort of thing.

Sure, wilson and company seem to utilize repetition in many of the peices (Slave called Shiver, Tinto brass, etc etc) but that's simply a proclamation of Wilson's music in general. Listen to any of his stuff, he LOVES repetition, and uses it quite well. I'll admit, I almost contrived the idea that this was too "popish" for my taste. Five years later, it's a regular listen of mine, and continues to invigorate my mind with varied degrees of depth and awe.

Let's look at the introductory track (originally written as a 14 minute delight) cut to just over 7 minutes. That in and of itself screams for pop music goers to STAY AWAY. What a masterpeice this song is, so deceptively complex with it's opening riffs. I almost wonder if many listeners put the album off after just a few short minutes witht his track, discarding it as if to discard a 'worthless' veggie burrito, who's taste may be simple and uninspired at the shell, but gives way to colors and flavor as your tongue meets the avocado.. and mexican rice, then to sour cream...mmmm o_O... a bit off topic I apologize.

My point is ladies and Gentlemen. Your really missing out on a marvelous journey lasting a virtual eternity, if you slog this as a pop album. What if you've never heard it before? Even if you HAVE heard it before. For the love of the pope, head my advice: K E E P L I S T E N I N G.

Good Luck, and GET THIS ALBUM.

Report this review (#439568)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stupid Dream ? 1999

10 ? Best Song: Piano Lessons

It's deeper, it's more moving, it's got a firmer grasp in realistic themes and probably what forged his attempt at furthering alternative rock of the band over the next couple years, but it does little to prevent me of accusing Steve Wilson of the crime of the century ? from the silvery, mechanically processed and sterilized album cover to the higher pitch to everything else, Steve Wilson's trying his hardest to be number one and create his own, superior version of OK Computer to cap the end of the decade. Yeah, he fails miserably. This ain't no OK Killer, it ain't no Soft Bulletin Killer ? hell it ain't even no Odelay Killer, at least in terms of personality.

But that's all up front. He's bearing his soul! What's in his soul? His piano playing abilities. I'd rather die than goddamn think 'Piano Lessons' is the be-all end-all to human resonance on this pitiful ball of mud we call Xygor-11. I think he even takes melody influences from Radiohead. 'Pure Narcotic' sounds like a portmanteau of Karma Police and No Surprises (complete with simple chords and a naïve twinkling), oh I forgot that it is utterly devoid of what made those two songs so moving, like intense structure and individuality. Yet he bemoans his ill fate: "I'm sorry that I'm not like you. I'm sorry that I don't act like you". He's such a damn tool sometimes.

There's some groovy bass guitar playing, but little else is rapturous, if you catch my drift. I'm tempted to brand this a generic, if promising alt. rock release with little in the way of spiritual release and just walk away from it without being weighed down. 'Don't Hate Me' is a sloppy miniepic with average sounding saxophones and an irritating percussion section. Things improve over the second side, with the tight an brief wisp of 'Stranger by the Minute'. I wasn't inspired very much as a whole though, what else am I supposed to say?

Report this review (#459149)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Stupid Dream' - Porcupine Tree (8/10)

Well, if it wasn't already clear with 'Signify' that Porcupine Tree was moving in a new direction with their music, than 'Stupid Dream' made it blatantly obvious. Although there would still be some psychedelic sounds in the band's music (and still are), Porcupine Tree was working themselves up to be the masters of the modern prog rock scene by incorporating a more concise sense of songwriting into their music, largely throwing out the indulgences of their psychedelic freakouts and jams. Porcupine Tree largely reinvent themselves with this album, and for those that may have doubted them at the time and thought they were selling out, they can think again; Porcupine Tree evolved from a spacey psychedelic act into one of prog's leading bands with this album.

Porcupine Tree have always been one of my favourite bands since I was first introduced to them, and 'Stupid Dream' reminds me why I was so attracted to them in the first place; they are a perfect mesh of memorable songwriting, dynamic performance, and some of the most beautiful and atmospheric production one is bound to hear in rock music. 'Stupid Dream' opens with one of its best known songs, the soaring anthem 'Even Less', which I first heard in its full ten minute plus form on the 'Recordings' compilation, but sounds just as great here in a somewhat edited form. A full string sections jars on their open strings as the opening riff of 'Even Less' comes to invite the listener in for more, and after a relatively heavy hard rock intro, the music recoils into a more acoustic form of progressive rock. The sound here is modern, even by today's standards, and the song is a good indicator of what 'Stupid Dream' is all about; maintaining their atmosphere while focusing more on the art of songwriting.

While Porcupine Tree's early material was undoubtedly a Wilson-only affair, 'Stupid Dream' does execute as a full band performance. The deep grooves of Colin Edwin's bass playing are very memorable, and Chris Maitland's drumming is precise and dynamic, although in hindsight, Gavin Harrison does do a better job with rearing Porcupine Tree. While not given the same room to sport his skills as many other prog rock bands allow their keyboardists, Richard Barbieri adds alot of depth to the band's typically guitar-driven sound, and all of this is tied together by Steven Wilson's distinctive style of production, which- as will come to no surprise to any who have experienced it before- tends to reward those with good stereo systems.

'Piano Lessons' is the single to this album; an intentionally conventional piece of songwriting where Steven Wilson subtly mocks the pop writing format, all the while making a very good piece of psychedelic art pop. 'Don't Hate Me' is another highlight and great track from the album, a fairly dark song with a beautiful chorus that could even make a statue cry. Arguably the best piece here though is 'A Smart Kid', a slower track that is led in with a reprise of violin strings, along with haunting acoustics and Steven's emotional lyrics. Without a doubt, it is the most atmospheric song on the album, and one of the best things that Porcupine Tree have done. Much like my view on 'In Absentia' however, while there are quite a few magnificent tracks on the album, there are a handful of less successful tracks that while still decent enough, tend to pale a little too much when compared to the gold that the album has to offer. Among these would likely be the only moderately exciting pair of 'This Is No Rehearsal' and 'Baby Dream In Cellophane'; both tracks that are given the same beautiful production and some nice melodies, that do not tend to leap out at me and strike as powerful a feeling.

An excellent album by all standards in conclusion, 'Stupid Dream' is a powerful segment in the saga of Porcupine Tree, and especially being one of my favourite bands, I can see myself experiencing this album many more times in the future. Great stuff!

Report this review (#489858)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

If Signify suggested that Porcupine Tree was willing to introduce new elements to their music, Stupid Dream is the definitive confirmation. Although the sound experimental / psychedelic has not been widely abandoned (in fact it has always been rooted in the overall sound of the band) this is an album with a greater focus on short songs and more commercial appeal.

This is pop and not prog? No, no way. As I stated in my review of Signify this band knows how to make good and accessible music and Stupid Dream is proof of that. This is one of the best albums of the band and is actually very catchy. Be nice for songs such as Pure Narcotic and Stranger by the Minute or by more complex songs like Don´t Hate Me (perhaps the most progressive song of album) and the instrumental Tinto Brass (a great song, considering it has the name of a porn director Italian) this is an album that really worth listening to. The only disposable moment here is the title track, an ordinary 30-second interlude that actually serves as a bridge between Piano Lessons and Pure Narcotic - but it's nothing that can affect the strength of this album as a whole.

Another thing worthy of note is that there are some passages that show here in this album (even slightly) the character of the heavier band, which will be explored further ahead on In Absentia. And face it, Porcupine Tree is even better when joining the progressive metal to its eclectic sound!

5 stars!

Report this review (#591680)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars As Steven Wilson explains it in interviews, Stupid Dream (and its sister album Lightbulb Sun) saw him focusing more on composing traditional songs as opposed to the extended proggy soundscapes Porcupine Tree were more known for at this point. In many respects, it parallels the departure Marillion took at around this time with Radiation, with both bands writing more conventional songs influenced by the art rock approach of Radiohead and by more retro influences. (Here, I detected the influence of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as opposed to the Beatles - particularly in the vocal harmonies.)

However, I think Porcupine Tree do a better job at taking on these influences and integrating them into their spacey sound so that the resultant album is something that's much easier for their existing fans to enjoy (as compared to Radiation, which many Marillion fans consider to be a rather weak effort). It helps that despite all the indie rock influence in evidence, the album leads off with the decidedly prog-oriented and rather Floydian Even Less, and regularly alternates between the more ethereal realms of prior Tree efforts and the indie-art rock territory the band were moving to explore. On the whole, this phase of Porcupine Tree would prove to be brief - encompassing just this album, Lightbulb Sun, and the Recordings compilation of off- cuts from both - but a very rewarding one nonetheless.

Report this review (#635030)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree's sixth album, Stupid Dream, changes the style of the band from their previous album, Signify, bringing on more of an accessible pop sound that would be continued in their next studio effort, Lightbulb Sun. However, this album still contains quite a variety of styles, ranging from the semi-metallic song This Is No Rehearsal, to the short, psychedelic track Baby Dream in Cellophane. Tinto Brass brings us some instrumental mayhem, while the much shorter instrumental title track (clocking in at just 28 seconds) links two of the album's catchiest songs, Piano Lessons and Pure Narcotic. Colin Edwin really shines on the tracks Slave Called Shiver and Don't Hate Me. Overall, this album is a solid release and is a necessary purchase for Porcupine Tree fans. 4/5
Report this review (#887493)
Posted Friday, January 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stupid Dream is the start of the "pop-era" Porcupine Tree, and consequently is where Porcupine Tree starts to get interesting, at least for me. The previous albums, while certainly progressive, have always had an overly ambient, atmospheric sound that mostly did nothing for me. Stupid dream sees a huge influx of pop elements into the music, as well as a hint of the metal that is to come in later albums. It is also important to remember that this is the second album where the band is actually, well, playing as a band, and the result is a high level of musicianship.

Song-wise, this album is pretty consistent, that is to say there really isn't any weak material, but conversely there's nothing extraordinary either. As mentioned, the songs are very pop-oriented, with an alternative edge. The songwriting is quite good, and most of Wilson's vocal melodies are catchy as anything. Unfortunately, as is commonly seen in pop, the song structures are rather predictable. Shorter songs like 'This is No Rehearsal,' 'Piano Lessons,' and 'Baby Dream in Cellophane' end up following a standard Verse-Chorus format, or similar. The real treats here are the longer songs, 'Even Less,' 'Don't Hate Me,' and especially 'Tinto Brass,' which is backed by a great rhythm section. Of course, the Pink Floyd influence is certainly not gone, and can be heard in parts of most songs.

If I could best describe this album I would simply use average. There is nothing amazing, but certainly nothing offensive. This is a great album to get into for fans of a poppier sound in prog, but Porcupine Tree has certainly done better.


Report this review (#1003537)
Posted Monday, July 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Opening with the brilliant Even Less, "Stupid Dream" is a genuine turning point for Porcupine Tree. Steven Wilson's slide guitar is joined by his sparkling clear voice and it sends the listener into a relaxing state of mind. Barbierie's incredible keyboard playing is always a delight, Maitland's drums and Edwin's bass are impeccable. The heavy distortion is mixed with moments of tranquil beauty. in fact the whole album drifts along on a wave of tranquility with only short outbursts of heavy rock to keep us awake.

This is an album packed full of mystical moments, enchanting effects, guitars that soar and lyrics that entrance. Piano Lessons has a jaunty tempo and some reflective lyrical poetry as only Wilson can deliver. Stupid Dream is a 28 second droning transition to the magic of Pure Narcotic. This track has a nice tempo and a ton of acoustic over piano. Slave Called Shiver has a killer bassline that drives headlong with loud drums and Wilson's breathy vox "I need you more than you could know and when I hurt myself its just for show". The dark lyrics are a taste of how introspective Wilson became on his solo albums such as the masterful "Grace For Drowning" and "Raven that Refused to Sing". The spacey wah wah lead break is amazing.

Don't Hate Me has appeared on many live albums or DVDs and has a catchy chorus, "Don't hate me, I'm not special like you". It is lengthy at 8:30 running time but its haunting soundscape is absolutely wonderful. The flute and bass instrumental break has an ethereal quality unsurpassed in previous albums. Then there is a great jazz fusion sax solo to indulge in and some reverberated flute warbles that are ghostly with their chilling icy breath. A landmark track and one of Porcupine Tree's triumphs.

This Is No Rehearsal reminds me of the upcoming Trains with its rhythmic patterns. Wilson uses his filtered vocal tone on this, a device that appears many times on the classic album "In Absentia", "Deadwing" and "Fear of a Blank Planet". A wah wah lead solo is simply the icing on the cake.

Baby Dream in Cellophane is a drifting hypnotic melody with acoustic rhythms and estranged keyboard pads, over Wilson's sleepy vocals. Stranger By The Minute has Wilson's vocals mixed to the front and a jumpy 4/4 beat with drum strikes, glazed over with scintillating harmonies in the chorus. A Smart Kid is overlaced with acoustic vibrations and a soundscape of multilayered synths. Wilson speaks of being "stranded here on planet earth, its not much but it could be worse."

Tinto Brass opens with Italian commentary of the Italian porn director Tinto Brass, then a massive drum beat kicks in and some flute trills over a fast bass pulse. This is on the more experimental level for the Tree. Stop Swimming returns to Wilson's dreamy vocals and very soft focus keyboards. It is a beautiful closing song to reflect on.

Overall this is one of the better PT albums leading to the big three. It is so well produced as has become the standard for Steven Wilson projects. "Stupid Dream" is a really wonderful album with consistent melodic fire and passion.

Report this review (#1061637)
Posted Friday, October 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Been waiting for a brighter spark from Porcupine Tree and this album starts off nicely with Even Less and then Piano Lessons. Next to mention is Slave Called Shiver and then they very moody and excellent Don't Hate Me. The instrumental piece, Tinto Brass, is a much rockier track, but as for the rest, they're all there or there abouts!

This album in its entirety seems a lot more mainstream and less of the psychedelic elements are to be found. Other than the sub 8 minute Don't Hate Me, the tracks are all shorter.

For me, that mystical spark has not been found yet. Although different than their previous offerings, not sure which direction the band is likely to take from here on. 3½ Stars.

Report this review (#1092226)
Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Porcupine Tree is a band that I know fairly well, and I love nearly all of their discography. This album, though, certainly claims its spot as my favorite of theirs. The new popish sensibilities are quite nicely woven together with some of their proggy and spacey music, creating an interesting blend. There is a great deal of variety on the album, yet there is still some nice cohesiveness to it all as well.

Some tracks soar to some really cool heights. Opener Even Less, Piano Lessons, A Smart Kid, Baby Dream in Cellophane, and closer Stop Swimming are all enjoyable highlights on this album, each creating an interesting tapestry within a wall of sound.

Stupid Dream essentially helped usher in a new age for Porcupine Tree, as they relied less on their space rock influence and gained a more diverse array of influences.

Report this review (#1285944)
Posted Monday, September 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Porcupine Tree-Stupid Dream

Stupid Dream is the fifth studio album by Progressive metal/Alternative rock band Porcupine Tree. 'Stupid Dream' marks a stylistic change in Porcupine Tree's sound. Their first four albums followed a metal infused space-rock sound, but the previous release 'Signify' showed a slight shift in sound.

Unlike 'Signify' however, 'Stupid Dream' mostly follows an alternative rock path with the normal metal elements mixed in. It begins with a very strong opener 'Even Less', which was originally a fourteen minute long song, cut short to seven for the album. The bridge of this song is where the really heavy crunching guitar comes in, and builds up. The album also includes Porcupine Tree's first successful single, 'Piano Lessons'. This song is definitely radio-friendly and light music, the lyrics are nice but I find it kind of boring.

My three favorites from the album include 'Slave Called Shiver', which has some awesome bass work by Edwin and has a really funky beat. This song has almost a funk metal feel to it. 'Baby Dream in Cellophane' is a very dark and menacing song that has great acoustics. It has a very nice atmospheric vibe. 'Tinto Brass' is the heaviest song on the album, being a pretty experimental metal instrumental.

Overall, I don't have much else to say about this album. I honestly find a lot of the songs on this album boring, none of the songs are bad just pretty bland. In my opinion they would refine this new style on the next album.

Hope you found this review helpful.

(Originally Written for

Report this review (#1300119)
Posted Sunday, November 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars This was the first Porcupine Tree album that was done over a shorter amount of time, or in specific sessions. All of the other PT albums up to this point had been done over periods of time and collected to put together an album. As a result, this album is definitely more focused and perfected, as the songs were all worked out and concentrated on until they were album-ready.

The budget for this album was also much larger than in the past, thus allowing them to spend the time in the studio to concentrate on the songs. With this budget, an orchestra was also brought in to give the album a richer, fuller sound. This was also a transitional album, even though some transition was seen in "Signify", this album confirms the transition away from psychedelic/spacey improvised works to more concise music which would be more accessible and would concentrate more on the songwriting skills of Steven Wilson but also on his instrumentation skills to keep things interesting.

So, listeners are going to notice a difference in this album compared to prior albums. I think PT did an excellent job of bringing together the changes and still making them sound like they weren't selling out to music corporation pressure. The idea behind this album is that people should think about their "Stupid Dream" of becoming a professional rock musician, because the glitz and glamour comes at a high price. The music you have to write and the fact that you bare your soul to the public in your music is very important and making your music personal is what music should be about. However, the price you pay for doing this is knowing that your music is going to end up on an "assembly line" and become a product. Also, you spend the rest of the time promoting and selling your music. All of this takes the personal aspect of the music away. Even though this is not a pleasant thought or task, it is a necessity and that is the hard and unpleasant work that comes with the job. Hence the art work of CDs being processed in a factory or industrial type setting.

The music here is excellent. Most of the songs deal with personalities with different eccentrics. Though it is not as well developed as it would become on the amazing albums "In Absentia", "Deadwing" and "Fear of a Blank Planet", it is still excellent. I don't want to go through track by track but I want to talk about the highlights a bit. The album opens up with "Even Less" which originally was a 14+ minute song (which is available on other recordings) that was pared down to 7+ minutes. Even cut down, this is an excellent song and introduces you to the new sound which promises you quality music which can be thoughtful at times and exciting at others. This one focuses on louder guitars. This is followed up by another excellent song "Piano Lessons" which has an excellent hook and a hard driving beat and is finished up with a wonderful guitar solo.

"Slave Called Shiver" and "Don't Hate Me" are actually songs about similar subjects. They both deal with characters that are obsessed with someone else, with the first one being more uptempo and the 2nd a more thoughtful slower tempo. "Don't Hate Me" sounds like the person is pleading with the subject of his obsession to accept him even though he has called her on the telephone and possibly stalked her but he raises her to a level far above himself. There is a nice saxophone solo here that sounds totally relevant. Excellent song and also the longest on the album.

"Baby Dream in Cellophane" is a moody beautiful song where the character is a baby thinking about whether he or she should accept the role that society is going to give to it. Genius. "Stranger by the Minute" is a wonderful song with the first instance of the beautiful signature harmonics we would hear a lot more of from PT in the future. Inspired by CSN&Y's harmonics as Steven Wilson admits he was listening to a lot of their music at the time (along with Soundgarden, Jeff Buckley, Todd Rundgren and Brian listen to the album and you can hear the influences). "A Smart Kid" is sung by a kid that is either a survivor of an apocalypse, though I think it is more in his imagination, that he is talking to an alien race pleading for them to "take him in". Maybe he is wishing in his mind that he would be better accepted in their society where they would understand him better. I love the processed vocals here that make it sound like the main character is alone in the universe and speaking inside his head, hence the idea that it is in his imagination.

"Tinto Brass" is named after an Italian movie director and the voice is Steven Wilson's girlfriend simply reading in Japanese a list of his movies. I bet you thought it was something more adventurous than that, but sometimes imagination is better than reality. Anyway, this is a hard driving instrumental that will get your heart racing. I love the way the song is mixed so that all of the instruments are heard equally even when the great flute solo and guitar solos come along, that they are not spotlighted so much as to drown out the excellent bass line and keyboards that are added to back up the solos. This way you can hear so much more of what's going on. The last track is one of Stephen Wilson's favorites. "Stop Swimming" is about the thought that we all have that we should stop swimming against the tide and just flow along with the current. This idea is not being promoted in the song though and Wilson said that you would never have to worry about him doing that which is why this is such a sad song since it is so tempting for us all to do this. But don't do it. Be yourself!

Anyway, you can hear the changes the band was going through and the approach to the masterpieces that were to come soon. I love this album, but it is not as good as what was to come. It is an excellent addition to your prog library and an important album for PT fans. 4 stars.

Report this review (#1334062)
Posted Thursday, January 1, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree have always been a bit of an oddity in the progressive rock world. Sure, they've experimented with many other genres to date, but not many bands in the musical style can lay claim to such an accessible and inviting sound in the process. Of course their 90s work is a bit more obscure and inaccessible because of Steven Wilson's psychedelic offerings, but with Signify, the band hit a turning point. A more band-oriented approach was taken, a more streamlined style was introduced (although still psychedelic, mind you), and the the switch in sounds was quite surprising to the fans of Porcupine Tree's more sprawling early work. And then if that wasn't enough, Stupid Dream was released.

Stupid Dream is basically Wilson's first foray into more commercial pop and alternative rock music, complete with shorter songs and much cleaner musical arrangements. The instrumental work is incredibly tight and crisp, but many of the songs are much more uplifting in tone (especially "Stranger by the Minute" and "Piano Lessons") despite some very depressing lyrical themes. Traces of the old Porcupine Tree sound are definitely present, especially in longer tracks such as "Tinto Brass" and "Don't Hate Me," but I really enjoy the balance presented here between alternative rock and hints of progressive rock; other than the band's next offering Lightbulb Sun, this mix can't really be heard as prominently as in other releases by the band. The lyrics also happen to be a strength of the record despite Wilson's unfortunate track record of having consistently weak lyrical work in other records, ranging from subjects such as survival ("A Smart Kid"), tragedy ("This is No Rehearsal"), complacency ("Stop Swimming"), and multiple other subjects throughout the experience. Interestingly enough, however, the atmosphere of the record usually remains pretty sunny and light, making the whole thing a comfortable entry for newcomers to progressive rock music in general. However, just as with most Porcupine Tree albums, there are still many complexities and inner-workings that serve to make Stupid Dream a compelling listen; Richard Barbieri in particular has wonderfully layered keyboard work that melds wonderfully with Wilson's melodic guitar lines. The production is also a strong reason for this, being exceptionally lush while highlighting every instrument perfectly; it's clean, but has enough edge during the heavier and more distorted moments.

The album is essentially split between what you would call the "singles" in structure and style, and the more sprawling progressive tracks such as the aforementioned "Don't Hate Me" and "Tinto Brass," much like Lightbulb Sun that came after it. "Piano Lessons" is pretty much the most accessible and fun track on here, with an incredibly poppy piano arrangement and Steven Wilson's melodic vocal work, while "Stranger by the Minute" and "This is No Rehearsal" follow suit (despite the depressing subject matter of the latter). On the more complex side, "Don't Hate Me" and "Even Less" are fantastic numbers with a ton of instrumental buildup to their melancholic songwriting. In fact, "Don't Hate Me" even has a killer saxophone solo and lots of jazz elements during the middle portion! "Tinto Brass," on the other hand, is less impressive; it basically sounds like meandering left-overs from the Signify album and doesn't fit the atmosphere of the album very well. "Baby Dream in Cellophane" is also quite weak, being one of the blander ballads in Porcupine Tree's catalog despite combining both depressing and uplifting moments pretty decently. Despite this, the thing that perhaps solidifies Stupid Dream as one of Porcupine Tree's stronger records is that, even with the catchy alternative portions, the album doesn't sound complacent or lazy when viewed as a successor to Signify... it merely comes off as a logical progression. "A Smart Kid" is probably the best way to view the evolution, as it is perhaps the most beautiful tune in Steven Wilson's entire discography; the acoustic portions are wonderfully minimalistic, and the catharsis reached by the more climactic chorus is truly a sound to behold because of the layered instrumentation and Wilson's emotive vocals.

Stupid Dream is pretty much the definition of a transitional record (along with Signify), but it's a damn good transitional record. The balance between emotion, accessibility and complexity, which is key to the Porcupine Tree formula, was pretty much in full effect by this point and the experience is quite satisfying as a result. I wouldn't say it reaches the heights of some of the band's subsequent releases such as Lightbulb Sun or In Absentia, but the leaps and bounds of Stupid Dream were pretty much instrumental in leading up to those albums, so I can't pick on it too much. Not when the music is this good, anyway.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Report this review (#1445839)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars I originally explored Porcupine Tree after listening to and loving Steven Wilsons solo works. This came as a surprise seen as my musical preference is symphonic prog, a different sub genre in itself. In 1998, Porcupine Tree released this album, Stupid Dream. It was their first exploration of a slightly more commercial, melodic change of sound for a band that go though phases, ending up with the current alternative 'prog' metal in the albums to come (In Absentia, FOABP).

The album kicks off with a standout track, a fantastic 7 minute ride with the name 'Even Less'. The song starts out with a slow, guitar riff led introduction, before the rest of the band kicks in playing along with the riff, immediately portraying a changed sound from the Porcupine Tree albums that came before (Signify, The Sky Moves Sideways). The song continues at a great pace and has a great chorus, however, the slower middle section I find tends to outstay it's welcome, this could have turned this song from good to brilliant. Nevertheless, this song is still highly enjoyable and a favourite among porcupine tree fans.

The next three songs, Piano Lessons, Stupid Dream (a short instrumental) and Pure Narcotic are simple, melodic songs that cause no offense, but tire with repeated listens. Pure Narcotic being the most enjoyable song here. Slave Called Shiver follows with some great bass playing from Edwin on show.

The next highlight of the album comes in the form of 'Don't Hate Me', a melancholic but strangely uplifting song that Steven Wilson intended to be a duet (which can be heard on Steven Wilsons 2016 release 4 and a half). This song comes with great lyrics and a memorable chorus.

Another 'commercial' (by porcupine tree standards) number comes in the form of 'this is no rehearsal', again pleasant the first few times but unmemorable. This is followed by the slightly disturbing 'baby dream in cellophane', that haunts in the verses but lightens up in the chorus.

'Stranger by the minute' is my personal favourite and the most memorable song on the album, a pleasant listen that improves, rather than deteriorates with further listens. The melody to this song is fantastic with great understanding between Chris Maitland on the drums and Colin Edwin on the bass, making for a great rhythm section. Steven Wilsons vocals also shine on this track with him adding in his own vocal harmonies, making for a pleasing listening experience.

Up next are two songs, A Smart Kid and Tinto Brass, neither which I have much love for. A Smart Kid starts well but never really goes anywhere musically speaking. Tinto Brass is possibly the most progressive song on the album, with its odd moments, but for me fails to be a coherent piece of work. However, the last song on the album, stop swimming, ends an album in typical Steven Wilson style (I drive the hearse, Happy Returns/ Ascendant Here on... , Feel so low etc.). It's a thoughtful song that ends the album on a high note.

Overall, not Porcupine Trees best but a distinct change in direction, featuring songs that stand up with their best. But however, there are too many fillers for this to be considered as one of their best albums.

Report this review (#1530208)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars A very delightful Porcupine Tree travel into their most pop side!

After the bit disjointed and irregular Signify, which is nonetheless a fine album, Steven Wilson produced this record with their habitual band members, the same since The Sky Moves Sideways sessions. The sound is so wonderful as ever, with an even cleaner guitar sound, splendid bass and drums and an outstanding and very ambient work on keyboards by Barbieri.

The signwriting direction of Stupid Dream is also more concise, contained and song oriented, forgetting a bit the long instrumental sections of The Sky Moves Sideways and the experimentation and boring psychedelic elements of Signify. And although the prog is still here, the best side of Stupid Dream are the shorter, catchy and very well written poppier songs, which are among the best that Steven Wilson wrote under the name of Porcupine Tree.

Best Tracks: Even Less (a true classic with wonderful guitar melodies and strong riffs towards the end), the pop-prog marvellous songs Piano Lessons, Pure Narcotic, This is No Rehearsal and Stranger By the Minute, and the great instrumental work on Slave Called Shiver and Tinto Brass.

Conclusion: maybe for the most radical prog purists Stupid Dream is too simple and pop oriented, but I find this album tremendously charming and just like In Absentia, it has the perfect mixture between accessibility and complexity.

So Stupid Dream is definitely in my top five Porcupine Tree studio albums and I consider It a true classic of the 90's.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#2111461)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2018 | Review Permalink

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