Review: ‘Siamese Dream’

The Smashing Pumpkins’ influential alt-rock album turns 30 years old this year

Widely considered one of the best bands from the 90s, The Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream turns 30-years-old.

Eli Ballesteros

Widely considered one of the best bands from the 90’s, The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siamese Dream” turns 30-years-old.

Shimmery guitars, hard hitting drums, and a calm-intense atmosphere fuse into this memorable album from 1993. The Smashing Pumpkins are widely considered to be one of the best bands to come out of the 90s, and this record marks their commercial breakthrough into the Billboard top 10 chart. “Siamese Dream” has a nostalgic aura to it that exudes feelings of childhood. It captures the fun, energetic parts of childhood as well as the sad, sorrowful parts. With the announcement of “The World is a Vampire Tour” starting in July, now is a great time to look back on The Smashing Pumpkins’ discography.

The Smashing Pumpkins formed in Chicago in 1988 by Billy Corgan and James Iha. Their early shows featured Corgan on bass and vocals, Iha on guitar, and a drum machine. 

Shortly after, Corgan added bassist D’arcy Wretzky and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin to the lineup. Corgan switched to playing guitar and after releasing a few singles, the band recorded their first album, “Gish.” The album was decently successful and pressure was on the band to record a good follow-up. So, they gathered up in Marietta, Georgia to work on their second album.

Although the recording sessions were riddled with personal issues, “Siamese Dream” was successfully completed and released on July 27, 1993. 

“Siamese Dream” isn’t considered to be a “concept album” lyrically, but in terms of instrumentals, it sounds like a reflection on childhood. The experiences of growing up, learning about the world, and losing your innocence are captured really well on this album. I can envision myself as a kid, running around in my neighbor’s backyard during a birthday party. The other neighborhood kids are there. Parents are making small talk and barbecuing on the grill. There’s a bouncy castle, cake on the patio table, and this album is playing during all of it. 

There’s lots of variety on this record. Each song invokes a different feeling. Some songs are quieter than others while some are very heavy. This album has elements of heavy metal as well as shoegaze, and it blends them pretty well together. 

Corgan’s vocal performance is quite unique. He has a slightly whiny voice but it isn’t annoying, thoughI know some people have a problem with it. The production on the album is very clear. It was produced by Butch Vig, who also produced “Gish” and “Nevermind” by Nirvana.

“Cherub Rock” has a really nice intertwined guitar riff. It has a soft melody and a cheery vibe. All the instruments complement each other in this song which makes it a great opening track.

“Today” is quiet during the verses but loud during the chorus. This ‘quiet-loud’ dynamic was made famous by Pixies, a band that heavily influenced The Smashing Pumpkins. This song is pretty melancholic but hopeful at the same time.

“Hummer” borrows a lot from shoegaze music. The drum groove on this song is kind of like the drum grooves on Can’s albums, it locks you in and doesn’t let you go until the song is over. This song features pretty guitar arpeggios and a quiet section towards the end which makes it memorable. 

“Rocket” has a vibe reminiscent of space rock. It sounds like a kid using their imagination, pretending that a cardboard box is a spaceship headed towards the farthest planets in the solar system. There’s a huge buildup at the end of this song that sounds like a rocket taking off.

“Disarm” is the first predominantly acoustic song on the album. This is probably the most cinematic song on the album. It’s a dramatic ballad with strings and bells. This song is impactful and beautiful.

“Geek U.S.A.” is very fast paced and heavy. The drums on this song sound like meteors crashing down on earth. There’s a quiet section in the middle, but then it erupts into an immaculate guitar solo. This song also has weird glitchy sounds near the end, like the dial up internet on old 90s computers.

“Silverf*ck” starts off with an extremely heavy metal riff. The bass and drums lay the foundation of this song while the guitar noodles around the fretboard. The middle of this song is extremely quiet, the only thing that can be heard are dissonant guitar chords. But then, it explodes into one of the heaviest endings to a song I’ve ever heard. This one is trippy.

All in all, if you love alternative rock, especially from the 90s, this album is a must listen. If you’re a big fan of metal or shoegaze and you want to broaden your musical horizons, this album is a great pick. If you like this album, check out the other Smashing Pumpkins albums such as “Gish”, “Pisces Iscariot”, and “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”. Other alternative rock bands from this era such as Nirvana, Weezer, Pavement, and Radiohead are great as well. 

Rating: 9.7/10

The Smashing Pumpkins recently announced upcoming tour dates starting in July. The third act of their rock opera album, “ATUM”, came out recently on May 5. The full list of dates for the tour is on their website


“Siamese Dream” is available on streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and Amazon Music. It’s also available on vinyl and CD.