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Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.00 | 1341 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

LiquidEternity | 2/5 |


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