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Porcupine Tree

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Porcupine Tree Stupid Dream album cover
4.00 | 1516 ratings | 95 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Even Less (7:11)
2. Piano Lessons (4:21)
3. Stupid Dream (0:28)
4. Pure Narcotic (5:02)
5. Slave Called Shiver (4:41)
6. Don't Hate Me (8:30)
7. This Is No Rehearsal (3:27)
8. Baby Dream in Cellophane (3:15)
9. Stranger by the Minute (4:31)
10. A Smart Kid (5:22)
11. Tinto Brass (6:17)
12. Stop Swimming (6:53)

Total Time 59:58

Bonus tracks on 2006 double LP edition & bonus DVD-Audio :
13. Ambulance Chasing (6:41)
14. Even Less (full length version) (14:07)

Bonus DVD-Audio from 2006 Snapper bundle:
1-14. Stereo & Surround mixes of Remastered album incl. 2 bonus tracks
15. Piano Lessons (promo video dir. by Mike Bennion) (3:26)
16. Photo Gallery

Line-up / Musicians

- Steven Wilson / vocals, guitars, piano, Hammond, sampler, bass (8,9), orch. arrangements, producer
- Richard Barbieri / synthesizers, Hammond organ, Mellotron, piano (1), glockenspiel (4)
- Colin Edwin / bass, double bass (2,12)
- Chris Maitland / drums, percussion, backing vocals (9)

- Terumi / vocals (11)
- Theo Travis / flute (6,11), tenor saxophone (6)
- East of England Orchestra / strings
- Nicholas Kok / conductor
- Chris Thorpe / orchestral arrangements

Releases information

Artwork: Bill Smith Studio with Robert Harding (photo)

2LP Gates Of Dawn ‎- GOD011 (2006, US) 2005 Mix & Remaster by SW + 2 bonus tracks

CD KScope ‎- smacd-813 (1999, UK)
CD+DVDa Snapper Music ‎- SMACD913 (2006, UK) 2005 Stereo mix/remaster by SW plus DVD-Audio w/ 24-bit Stereo & 5.1 Surround mixes by SW + 2 bonus tracks from the album sessions and extras

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PORCUPINE TREE Stupid Dream ratings distribution

(1516 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

PORCUPINE TREE Stupid Dream reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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.
Review by loserboy
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!!!!
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by 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.

Review by 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.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by FishyMonkey
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.

Review by 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.

Review by OpethGuitarist
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.

Review by chessman
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.
Review by evenless
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!

Review by Chicapah
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.

Review by Zitro
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.

Review by obiter
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....

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Kotro
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by 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..

Review by 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

Review by progrules
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.

Review by russellk
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.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
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.

Review by ProgBagel
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.

Review by LiquidEternity
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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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 Donīt Hate Me have vocals which means that Stupid Dream doesnīt seem as progressive in sound as Porcupine Treeīs earlier efforts. Steven Wilsonīs 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. Iīll rate Stupid Dream 3 stars because I think itīs a good album, but itīs not excellent. Iīm entertained but not excited beyond average. I still have a hard time finding out why people rate Porcupine Treeīs 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.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
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!
Review by progkidjoel
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'!


Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by EatThatPhonebook
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.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by jampa17
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.

Review by 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.

Review by 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!

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Review by Necrotica
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)

Review by 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: ****

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 367

'Stupid Dream' is the fifth studio album of Porcupine Tree and was released in 1999. This album and their next sixth studio album 'Lightbulb Sun', which was released in 2000, represented a transitory musical period for the group. After those both albums, Porcupine Tree moved away from their earlier musical works, more in the vein of instrumental and psychedelic music, to a more metal and heavy musical direction what can be seen on their next studio albums. That can be particularly noted on their ninth studio album 'Fear Of A Blank Planet'. 'Stupid Dream' takes a more commercial and accessible approach to pop rock sound while still maintaining the heavy progressive rock musical influences.

The album's title refers Steven Wilson's view of today's music industry. While many artists aspire to be a musician for fame and glamorous lifestyle, he feels that it's a stupid dream because, in reality, it leads to a real life of hard work and struggle. If a modern musician wants to survive as a musician he has to learn and to deal with the need to sell his music and his art, which is a very difficult thing to do nowadays. And I'm sure that Wilson knows perfectly well what he says.

The line up on the album is Steven Wilson (vocals, guitars, piano, samples and bass), Richard Barbieri (analogue synthesizers, Hammond organ, mellotron and piano), Colin Edwin (bass guitar and double bass), Chris Maitland (backing vocals, drums and percussion) and Theo Travis (flute and saxophone). Strings by East of England Orchestra.

'Stupid Dream' has twelve tracks. All songs were written by Steven Wilson, except 'Tinto Brass' which was written by all four band's members. The first track 'Even Less' is an incredible track highly progressive, psychedelic, harder and a bit more atmospheric than the typical band's tracks. The keyboards and synthesizers add a nice and rich musical atmosphere to the chorus and it has also a good guitar solo at the end. The second track 'Piano Lessons' is another incredible track with relaxing guitar tones and parts, atmospheric and psychedelic choruses, and layered vocals work wonders for another one of the album's best songs. The third track is the title track 'Stupid Dream'. This is just a little mood piece of music of 28 seconds long with a tuning orchestra and some sound effects. The fourth track 'Pure Narcotic' is the second single from the album before 'Piano Lessons' which was the first single. This track features acoustic guitars, close harmony vocals, glockenspiel, pastoral piano and wonderful lyrics. The fifth track 'Slave Called Shiver' is a song with funky musical influences which is particularly noticed by the bass and the percussion that open the album complemented by the repetitive piano work. A fantastic vocal work and atmospheric background music can be heard before the electric guitar work that introduces the heavier musical section. The sixth track 'Don't Hate Me' is a more melancholic song with gentle vocals and a fantastic keyboard work. It has also solemn soundscapes and relaxed noises and it features the first use of a saxophone in the music of Porcupine Tree. The seventh track 'This Is No Rehearsal' is a song with great musical atmosphere and the guitar solo is excellent in the middle of the song. The song changes tempo, rhythms and dynamics very quickly, although kind of giving the song a kind of disorder. The eighth track 'Baby Dream In Cellophane' is a song with distorted vocals over acoustic guitar chords and spacey slide guitar. This short psychedelic track sounds a lot like an earlier Pink Floyd's music. The ninth track 'Stranger By The Minute' became the third single of the album. This is one of the most psychedelic tracks on the album with its guitar riffs in the background, the flowing layered vocals and the acoustic guitar rhythm behind the electric guitars. The tenth track 'A Smart Kid' is a song with lyrics that deals with a sole survivor after a nuclear or chemical war. Musically, this song features amazing atmospheric sounds, which really give an image of desolation and destruction. The eleventh track 'Tinto Brass' is the only band musical composition on the album. It was inspired by the Italian director Tinto Brass and starts out with some Japanese spoken text that musically has a funky space tune that turns into a metal extravaganza. The twelfth and last track 'Stop Swimming' is another excellent track with sadness and despair present in both, music and lyrics. Steven once said that this is one of his favourite compositions. This is a perfect way to close this album.

Conclusion: 'Stupid Dream' is a great album and is definitely a must have for any progressive rock fan. The album's variety, emotion, soundscapes, atmospherics and experimental parts work together perfectly well all over the album. With this album, Steven hasn't lost his Floydian musical influences, but on the album, it's a different era of Pink Floyd's development that can be recognized. For instance 'Baby Dream In Cellophane' features effects that clearly resemble the middle piece of 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun' of Floyd. Concluding, 'Stupid Dream' is an excellent psychedelic progressive rock album that features some of Porcupine Tree's best works. It's another solid chapter in the discography of the band. It also explains why Porcupine Tree is recognized as one of the best prog bands of our times.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars Ignoring the many EPs, live albums and archival releases, PORCUPINE TREE's canon can basically be broken down into three phases. The first was essentially Steven Wilson's solo projects that focused on modern sounding psychedelic space rock that took the sounds of Pink Floyd and German Krautrock into the modern era. He hired extra musicians but the band hadn't quite gelled as a unit yet. From "Signify" to "Lightbulb Sun" PORCUPINE TREE became a true band that retained all the psych rock while incorporating sounds from the 90s alternative rock scene with more streamlined traditional songwriting that focused on lyrical content and accessible melodies without jettisoning the progressive rock characteristics that had gotten them that far. The final stage was when all these elements came to fruition and taken to extremes which resulted in the band's peak performances from "In Absentia" to "Fear Of A Blank Planet" and included the less popular "The Incident."

STUPID DREAM was the second album of the second phase and continued the style laid down on "Signify" which focused on accessible pop hooks while integrating grungy alternative rock heft into the psychedelic space rock elements primary delivered by the keyboards and guitar tones. On STUPID DREAM the emphasis was squarely placed on the lyrics which dealt with Wilson's personal experience with the world at large telling him it's a waste of time to pursue a musical career due to the fact it is already too crowded and that nobody would ever listen to his music no matter how hard he tried. Of course after PORCUPINE TREE's rise in popularity manifested the album takes on a whole new meaning of "stick it up yer arse and stick to yer friggin dreams!" but at this point in time in 1999 when the album was originally released, it reflects his frustrations of choosing between his passion and a so-called more sensible avenue of what many of us would call selling out.

This album ratchets up the second phase of the PORCUPINE TREE experience. While "Signify" had debuted the alt rock vs psych, STUPID DREAM took it even further with more streamlined tracks that offered various melodic hooks either via the piano, the guitar or just Wilson's singing style. This is a pretty cool album in the fact it's one of the few examples i can cite as psychedelic grunge. While the rock parts are clearly from the contemporary grunge scene of the 1990s mixed with the psychedelic space rock from the first phase of PT, the album is chock full of many other influences ranging from Todd Rungren and Utopia to Jeff Buckley and even Crosby, Stills and Nash in the vocal harmonizing department. There are many aspects of folk music that come and go and several spoken word samples that add some cool intros, intermissions and song endings.

Really everything improved on this album from "Signify" although that was a strong album as well in its own right. The melodic hooks are even catchier here, the sense of dynamics is even more diverse and the production which became one of Wilson's most sought after talents has resulted in sheer perfection by this point. The meticulous attention to detail would become PORCUPINE TREE's strongest attribute at this point and STUPID DREAM pretty much signifies the moment when the band came of age. There was no way to go but up from here. Perhaps the strongest trait of all was how the band could alternate moods and musical styles between verses, choruses and bridges all the while adding extra motifs that somehow they manage to slip into the mix. There was also more attention paid to becoming more commercial which for better or worse worked out. The opening "Even Less" for example started out as a 17-minute track that got 10 minutes chopped off.

This is really the album where PORCUPINE TREE mastered the art of perfect transitions between stylistically disparate styles of songwriting much in the vein of Radiohead who itself found its unique mix of psychedelic space rock with catchy pop hooks that took a cue from earlier bands like This Mortal Coil, The Cocteau Twins and Slowdive. While PORCUPINE TREE developed its true style here it still needed a bit more work before it would start cranking out what many would deem masterpieces. Despite the more frequent appearances of grunge and alternative rock, this is still very much a psychedelic experience.

Although this is only the mid-phase of PORCUPINE TREE, it's still a gratifying experience. Yeah, the metal heft hadn't quite drifted into the scene until "In Absentia" but the nuts and bolts of the PT experience had truly gelled. What's lacking here is consistency with a few tracks such as "Stranger By The Minute" not really standing out amongst the rest of the album and with an hour's playing time, it would've behooved the band to nix a few weaker tracks. All in all an excellent album with a significant moral message being delivered but not quite perfect yet. The saxophone solos from guest musician Theo Travis for example sound woefully out of place but his flute performances are spot on. Still not a perfect album but if one lesson can come from this album, it's that there is no STUPID DREAM to be had since despite all the naysayers, Steven Wilson had the last laugh as not only one progressive rock's most endearing newbies to the modern prog scene but also as one of the most sought after producer's in today's complex digital reality. All in all, great album!

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars Like its predecessor "Signify", Porcupine Tree's fifth album "Stupid Dream", moves away from the extensive cosmic lucubrations to get a little closer to the earthly sphere, developing soundscapes where the sung sections acquire greater prominence, which are complemented by the forcefulness and the hypnotic and mysterious tone so characteristic of the band's compositions.

"Stupid Dream" describes, on the one hand, melodies full of intensity, such as the opening "Even Less" and Steven Wilson's guitar creating a raspy riff well supported by the tangled synthesized sounds of Richard Barbieri, or the maturity of "Don't Hate Me" with the novel and elegant saxophone of Theo Travis that is supported by the solid bass line of Colin Edwin and the percussion of Chris Maitland, or the precious and arpeggiated depth of "Smart Kid", or the instrumental "Tinto Brass" with Maitland's percussion as a base for Wilson's guitar ramblings and Travis' uninhibited flute and, on the other hand, the album also draws less complex scenarios, which although they are more commercially accessible, like the light "Piano Lessons", the rhythmic "Pure Narcotic" or the agile "Stranger by the Minute", their lesser complexity does not affect their musical value despite some questioning grimaces that arose among the band's early followers.

Underpinned by impeccable production, an aspect of the band's constant care, "Stupid Dream" represented a step forward in Porcupine Tree's ascending career, and brought them much greater public recognition than all their previous albums.

Very good

3.5/4 stars

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4 stars Released in 1999, Stupid Dream marked a massive shift in the band's sound. The songs are focused and direct, and Wilson's lyrics are more personal than on past releases. This is the album where Porcupine Tree came into their own. The opening "Even Less" acts something of a bridge between the old ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903280) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#2167326) | Posted by GrafHaarschnitt | Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 slig ... (read more)

Report this review (#1530208) | Posted by tomprog | Thursday, February 18, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1300119) | Posted by Fearabsentia | Sunday, November 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1285944) | Posted by Obsidian Pigeon | Monday, September 29, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1092226) | Posted by Ozymandias | Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 se ... (read more)

Report this review (#1003537) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Monday, July 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#887493) | Posted by zeqexes | Friday, January 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 31st March, 2021: Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream (alternative rock, 1999) It's far from their best record, but there's something about the easy-listening nature of this one that has found me reaching for it quite often when I'm not sure what I want to hear. Perhaps in a similar vein to the album f ... (read more)

Report this review (#615421) | Posted by Gallifrey | Sunday, January 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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) t ... (read more)

Report this review (#591680) | Posted by voliveira | Monday, December 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 main ... (read more)

Report this review (#439568) | Posted by -Radioswim- | Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#275673) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#273814) | Posted by Antennas | Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 litt ... (read more)

Report this review (#263202) | Posted by Bligahphlarum | Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 lac ... (read more)

Report this review (#229383) | Posted by mel from hell | Saturday, August 1, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#203616) | Posted by Metal_Style | Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 s ... (read more)

Report this review (#190517) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 does ... (read more)

Report this review (#176967) | Posted by Zarec | Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 on ... (read more)

Report this review (#167204) | Posted by Moonshield | Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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' ... (read more)

Report this review (#162466) | Posted by strayfromatlantis | Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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