Porcupine Tree - Stupid Dream
Progressive Rock
12 songs (59:55)
Release year: 1999
Porcupine Tree, Kscope
Reviewed by Khelek
Archive review

This is another one of those albums that I have listened to many, many times and still enjoys a prominent place on my most played albums list. Forgive me if I'm a bit biased, but I enjoy almost everything this band does. Released in 1999, this is one of Porcupine Tree's middle period albums when they began to transition to a more modern rock style, yet it's still composed mainly of their classic progressive elements. There are also still some of the psychedelic elements that Steven Wilson was so fond of early in the band's career. The title of the album, Stupid Dream, does have a somewhat dark psychological ring to it, and as we find out, many of the tracks on this album do tend to lean towards the darker end of the emotional spectrum.

I really enjoy the first track, the seven-minute epic Even Less. It begins with the sounds of cellos and then sounds of children laughing before the melodic electric guitar wails come in, to be blown away by heavy riffs. The catchy riffs that start here are continued throughout the song in some form or another. Wilson's calm, serene vocals contrast and complement the music perfectly here. The effects that are sometimes used on the guitar here remind me of Pink Floyd. There seems to be an undercurrent of melancholy in most of the songs on this album, broken up by some more upbeat tracks, though even those can have dark overtones. Piano Lessons begins with, you guessed it, a piano followed by some catchy guitar work and the low, clean vocals of Wilson. This song is a bit more upbeat than the previous one, and it does not have the same feeling of melancholy. The title track is simply the sounds of a violin or cello, backed by some weird electronic sounds. After this the album gets back to the softer, more melancholic songs with Pure Narcotic, Slave Called Shiver, and Don't Hate Me. Slave Called Shiver does have a great bassline that is memorable and fits perfectly into the song along with simple piano melody. The atmosphere is created using these elements and some distorted electric guitar sounds and interesting drumming that consists mostly of cymbals. Although the music is more upbeat, the lyrics still deal with the ideas of pain and loss of love. Baby Dream In Cellophane is a weird song that begins with an otherworldly feel to due to the distorted, reverbed vocals and strange electronic sounds. The chorus sounds like the traditional Porcupine Tree with the vocal distortion disappearing and the distorted yet not overpowering electric guitars. This is an interesting song to be sure. Stranger By The Minute is another more upbeat track from the album that quickly became one of my favorites with the skillful use of melody. The lyrics are interesting albeit nonsensical, and the use of guitars is brilliant and very memorable. After this the album closes out with three more slowly paced songs including A Smart Kid and Stop Swimming. These can almost be called ballads with their melancholic melodies and softer vocal work. The piano in A Smart Kid adds to the desolate atmosphere and the lyrics are equally lonely: "Stranded here on planet Earth/It's not much but it could be worse".

This is my favorite Porcupine Tree album for the simple reason that it carries you with it on a journey through dark thoughts and really envelopes you in the atmosphere that it creates. There isn't a song on here that you can take lightly, they are all thought-provoking in both the lyrics and the music itself. As I said at the beginning, I have listened to this album many, many times, and even now I'm still able to notice things that I never have before. Steven Wilson and company proved yet again why they deserve to be at the forefront of modern progressive rock.

Killing Songs :
Even Less, Slave Called Shiver, Stranger By The Minute, A Smart Kid
Khelek quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Porcupine Tree that we have reviewed:
Porcupine Tree - Up The Downstair reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Porcupine Tree - On The Sunday Of Life reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Porcupine Tree - The Incident reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Porcupine Tree - Deadwing reviewed by Boris and quoted 89 / 100
Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun reviewed by Khelek and quoted 91 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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