It shouldn’t work, but it really does. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is the Smashing Pumpkins most ambitious and successful album. A double album, it is compared to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and The Beatles’ The White Album.
Billy Corgan, the lead singer calls it an album made for teenagers and says it was made “To sum up all the things I felt as a youth but was never able to voice articulately.” Released in 1995, it is for the teenagers of the 90’s. This is the kind of album that could only have happened, and worked in the 90’s. After Smashing Pumpkin’s second album, Siamese Dream’s success, the Smashing Pumpkins were approaching the mainstream, getting radio play with the album’s most successful single, with its music videos were playing on MTV. Their third album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is every idea they had at the time, or any new style they wanted to try out as a band put into a two disc album.
It is 28 songs, Corgan was on a songwriting streak. It all worked together. It is the band.
Siamese Dream, the previous album was difficult. Corgan had writer’s block and was struggling with depression, they had pressures to become “the next Nirvana,” and the band was having trouble working together. Nevertheless, Siamese Dream was a hit. Mellon Collie was even better. The Pumpkins pulled out all of the stops. They are special, they stand out, as does this album. Corgan’s voice is something else, soothing once, as a lullaby, then raspy and screaming. His voice sets the mood, though often it contrasts with the instruments. His voice is the last thing you would expect to hear against the screeching guitars and bass line.
All 28 of its songs are completely different. This is not a concept album, but it has a certain theme, or feel together. It feels together as an album, all 28 songs. Corgan calls the album about “The human condition of mortal sorrow.” The songs are something completely different, the voice is unique and fascinating, its soft, dream-like, but at the same time harsh and and raspy. A soft voice against loud blazing guitars and riffs. There are aspects of punk, gothic rock, heavy metal, shoegazing, psychedelic rock, dream pop, and techno. They are not another 90’s grunge band. Songs go from ballads, screechy, angsty, heavy metal anthems, and quotes like “love is suicide’, to summery sounding lullabies with lines of “love can last forever.”
This album is Smashing Pumpkins at their greatest. It was their greatest success that shoved them into the rock mainstream. It was the band working together. It was nominated for seven grammys, and four of the albums five singles made the Billboard Top 40.
Bullet With Butterfly Wings, and Zero, two singles from the album are insane, the definition of teen angst. The lyrics are angry, almost to the point of being immature, about life and anger and love, with roaring guitar riffs. These songs wouldn’t have gotten radio play at any time except for the 90’s. Songs go from these to haunting, thought provoking ballads, such as To Forgive, and lullabies like Stumbleine and Farewell and Goodnight. Thirty-Three, a soft ballad about love made the rock radio after the other rock hits released from Mellon Collie. 1979, the most successful single, is other worldly, futuristic something no one had ever heard before. It is a coming of age song about a certain feeling of youth and your teenage years. This whole albums seems based off of a certain feeling you have.
This album was named one of the best of the decade. The Smashing Pumpkins and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness are not to be forgotten. Today’s generation of teenagers need an album like this.
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