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RECORD RACK

Smashing Blasts for the Mosh and Mind

August 01, 1993|STEVE HOCHMAN

SMASHING PUMPKINS

"Siamese Dream"

Virgin

* * *

Without the bellow and bluster generally considered key to alternative rock success, this Chicago quartet nonetheless seems poised on the verge of big things with its major-label debut, which follows a touted 1992 independent album. Make no mistake, the Pumpkins can crank it up--several of the most enticing tracks here, including the ironically titled "Quiet," are built on raging riffs that sound like a Harley rapidly shifting up and down through its gears.

But it's the truly quiet moments that set the band apart, and the scale of its success will likely be tied to how many fans are willing to stop moshing and enter into some rather contemplative, even tender territory.

Singer-songwriter Billy Corgan's voice, which is more in the elastic pop mold of Cheap Trick's Robin Zander than the standard Black Flag-Black Sabbath style of many contemporaries, gives his thoughtful lyrics of lost innocence more depth than despair.

That creates an air of wistful nostalgia, underscored at times by touches of strings and Mellotron. The songs tend to drift in places, and some get a bit long-winded, but the overall balance between the harsh and the sweet makes for a strong and distinctive package.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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