Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

Smashing Pumpkins

Virgin Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


One of the most maddening aspects of the Smashing Pumpkins is how critics have waffled on their monster hit Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. When it first came out, "overblown", "self-indulgent" and "pretensious" were words that were associated with this opus.

A year later, after the bum rush of videos and airplay, this album was mopping up awards left and right. "Ambitious," "epic" and "brilliant" were the key words of association. I've listened to this album in its entirety at least 9 or 10 times and I'm still leaning towards the "overblown" argument. It's admirable in its ambitions (one album could have been a double album in the 70s), but before handing Billy Corgan and company the "Best Album of the Decade" crown, its flaws equal each stride the album achieves.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Let's start with the good, so I won't get too much hate mail. Producer Flood gives each song a full, rich sound. It's a fat double album and it sounds like you're listening to an epic. "1979", "Zero" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" will be staples in jukeboxes in both frat bars and pizza pubs well into the next millennium.

The lesser known songs will have cynics of the band giving the album another listen. The spacey "We Only Come Out At Night", the catchy riffs of both "Here Is No Why" and "Stumbleine" showcase a very talented band that MAY have deserved a lot of the acclaim that this album landed. At least a marginally talented band occpies the collection of many high school and college kids.

And yes, critics have the right to change their mind, but not so damn many when it came to this album. "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" has grown tired and it is likely to say that it won't have the staying power of say "Another Brick In The Wall". "X.Y.U.", "Fuck You (An Ode To No One)" and "In The Arms Of Sleep" are dictionary definitons of album filler tunes. And with a big budget, the cheap, innovative quirks that made Gish their best album are all but forgotten on this one.

I know dissing the Smashing Pumpkins is about as bold and radical as saying classic rock radio plays too much Boston, but I can't help but to do so with this Zeppelin-sized album. Their many b-sides releases last year had more appeal than Mellon Collie. Case in point with the "Zero" single. It showcased the Pumpkins at their peak, meshing the creative pop of "Zero" with trippy feedback that would make Thurston Moore proud, especially with the 20 minute "Pastichio Medley".

Corgan in interviews said he wanted Mellon Collie to have the impact on listeners today as The Wall had on listeners of the early 80s. Judging by the acclaim and the sales figures, he accomplished that goal. And though its somewhat amusing to think that this album will be the staple in many rolled-up towel underneath the door dormrooms, I will still think of Mellon Collie as just a good album. Yes, it did touch a nerve with angst-ridden adolescents, to quote from Bart Simpson (please don't sue), "making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel".

Rating: C+

User Rating: B+


© 1997 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.