14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: PORCUPINE TREE - STUPID DREAM : WITH BONUS DVD AUDIO DISC (Audio CD)
Along with Lightbulb Sun, this album tends to get a bit of a bashing amongst the PT faithful. It does retain a far more poppy sound, and Wilson himself acknowledged that on the pair of albums, he was focused more on the songs themselves, rather than how they fitted together into an album. Nevertheless, any fans of Porcupine Tree's lighter sounds will certainly find themselves right at home here, and I honestly think that this is one of PT's strongest albums, in terms of depth! Rarely will you find a poor track, and the songs are great to listen to, particularly when in a mellow mood. Edwin's bass is ever-present yet quietly dignified whilst driving the songs along, Harrison's drumming is as excellent as ever, and Barbieri really steps to the fore with some wonderfully constructed piano pieces and soundscapes. Whilst nowhere near as intense as In Absentia or Deadwing, as bizarre as Up The Downstair or On The Sunday of Life, Stupid Dream still manages to weigh in heavily. I'll go through the songs, and give a few opinions on them, in the hope that I can give a better insight into this excellent album!
-The album kicks off with 'Even Less', widely regarded as a fan favourite, as well as often being in PT's live setlists when on tour. The melodramatic opening riff is unique, and the song is very competently written. An excellent opening!
-Piano Lessons follows this, far more poppy, and perhaps summing up the album on the whole. If you compare the steady rhythm to numerous pop songs, you'd probably get a similar type of sound, but they make it work here. Bizarre lyrics, but that's nothing new. :P
-The title track is next, and is a quick 30 second instrumental filler piece, Nothing special, though it links the tracks either side of it together nicely. Very ambient. :)
-'Pure Narcotic' is an awesome track, prominently based around piano and acoustic guitar. I think that Wilson's singing is excellent here, some nice harmonies, and a very gentle sound...typical of the album on the whole. Excellent, and one of my favourites.
-Up next is the mesmeric 'Slave Called Shiver', which has a rather funky bassline. Nothing amazingly special about it, but it's a decent track.
-'Don't Hate Me' follows, and (I believe) is this first PT track to use brass...though I'm not sure on that. Regardless, this is touching a little more on the mysterious/ambient side of PT's works, building and building right to the end. The chorus is very well done, in particular!
-In order to not clog this review up too much by making it overlong, I'll skip directly to the last track here, which deserves special mention. An utterly spellbinding piano-driven track, 'Stop Swimming' really closes the album well- think 'Collapse The Light Into Earth', with a different slant. A wonderfully emotive piece, similar to others in the album, but with something unique that simply sets it apart. Incredible.
To sum up, I'd say that this is an extremely worthwhile purchase, but only if you lean towards more pop-orientated songs of the PT catalogue. Fans of Blackfield will find plenty to appreciate here, but even those who prefer Deadwing and the like will still find a few gems to unearth in here. I'd highly recommend it; though give it a listen before you purchase if you can, as the overall style perhaps might not be to your taste. Happy listening!