The Smashing Pumpkins first smashed onto the scene in 1991, with the groundbreaking rock masterpiece "Gish."
And as with all their albums, they had some leftover songs that didn't make the cut. But they did make it onto the tiny gem "Lull," along with one of the songs from the album proper -- a beautiful demonstration of all the Pumpkins' rock'n'ballad dimensions, though not their best work.
It opens with an ethereal little buildup, and climaxes into a slow, full-bodied ballad, full of gentle guitar grinds and drums. "Could have known/I would reveal/Should have known/I would conceal your way," Corgan murmurs, before announcing that "she knows, she knows" over and over.
Things go into rock'n'roll mode with "Blue," which builds itself up on a bunch of hefty chords, into a dizzying swirl of bassrock... and changes tempo into a slow-burning, epic rocker halfway through. "Slunk" is a different animal -- all blazing chords and riffs, going at about a hundred MPH as Corgan strangles the guitar into screaming. Finally there's "Bye June," which is just a mellow, sweet little acoustic ballad.
The Pumpkins were still getting their footing when this EP came out, and "Lull," in a way, is all about the then-young band exploring the limits of their musical abilities, and what would fit into their albums. It's also astoundingly good -- each song is a brilliant example of its type, whether a mellow ballad or a high-octane rocker.
In fact, you wouldn't know that these songs were made by a new band -- Corgan and James Iha blast out the solid, muscular riffs, but Corgan also does a gentle acoustic number at the end, and "Rhinoceros" has strong riffs glimmering just under the surface. D'Arcy Wretzky spun some brilliantly kinetic bass, and Jimmy Chamberlin underscored it with rapid-fire drums.
Corgan's nasal voice is actually pretty restrained here, sounding tender one minute and sneering the next. His songwriting was still fairly undeveloped ("Colors show/After the moon/I should go/See you in June"), there are moments of pure genius ("I lay with you, this velvet morning/Stay with me, for a while").
The Smashing Pumpkins were blossoming into their full talent when "Lull" was made, and this is a mini cornucopia of rock'n'roll brilliance. Definitely a must-hear.