Album Review: Smashing Pumpkins – “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”

Smashing Pumpkins released their double album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, in 1995, to follow up Siamese Dream. Each disc contains fourteen songs, so you get to hear twenty-eight songs in all between the two discs of the album.

With Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Smashing Pumpkins cover a lot of different sounds musically over the course of the two discs, but the album flows together very well. The title song opens the album, which is a keyboard-based, slower instrumental track; at the time the album was released, this wasn’t something that the average listener would have expected to hear from Smashing Pumpkins. Then, it segues directly into “Tonight, Tonight,” a song that utilizes strings in addition to the instruments being played by the band. The song is known just as much for its music video as it is for the song itself.

The album then moves into more typical Smashing Pumpkins territory with the rocking “Jellybelly,” “Zero,” “Here is No Why,” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.” “To Forgive” slows the pace of the album down, and is then followed by the uptempo “An Ode to No One” and “Love,” with the latter incorporating a bit of distortion of the vocals. “Cupid De Locke” is another curveball on the album; while it’s a good song, it just doesn’t quite follow the more traditional rock sound that had been heard on the previous seven songs. Even though the song is different, it’s a nice change of pace from the band’s then “traditional” sound. The album goes into ballad territory next with “Galapogos.” This is followed by “Muzzle,” which is a more traditional uptempo rocker. The next song, “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans,” is the longest track on the album; it clocks in at nine minutes and twenty-one seconds. The downtempo “Take Me Down,” which is sung by James Iha instead of Billy Corgan, closes the first disc.

The second disc opens with “Where Boys Fear to Tread,” which is an uptempo rocker. This is followed by “Bodies,” one of the songs that sounds the closest to what you would have heard on the band’s previous album, Siamese Dream. “Thirty-Three” slows the album down into ballad territory, and the slower tempo continues with “In the Arms of Sleep.” Next is “1979,” which was the big pop hit from the album. Then, “Tales of a Scorched Earth” is next; it’s one of the hardest sounding songs on the whole album and it also utilizes a lot of distortion on the vocals. Then “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” follows, which opens with a very quiet keyboard intro; the instrumentation gradually builds into sounding more like a “traditional” Smashing Pumpkins song.

“Stumbleine” runs for slightly under three minutes, and it returns the album to a slower tempo. “X.Y.U.,” which clocks in at slightly over seven minutes, is a very uptempo rock number. “We Only Come Out at Night” is another one of the “curveball” tracks on the album; it utilizes more non-traditional rock instruments, and the lyrics are almost “sing-songy.” This is followed by “Beautiful,” which is another slower ballad. The next song, “Lily (My One and Only),” musically sounds like it should’ve come out sometime in the 1970s; again, it’s not the “traditional” rock sound associated with the band. The final two songs on the album, “By Starlight” and “Farewell and Goodnight,” are both slower songs; however, it should be noted that on “Farewell and Goodnight,” vocals are provided by all four band members.

While the album itself may have a strange title, it proved just how versatile Smashing Pumpkins really were. Not only that, but it helped to lay the groundwork for the sounds of the band’s future albums. After listening to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, you can hear why it was not only one of the best double albums of the 1990s, but why it’s also one of the most influential albums of the decade.


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