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Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.00 | 1329 ratings

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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.

Nightfly | 4/5 |


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