“Mellon Collie”: the Pumpkins’ most ambitious album


   The Smashing Pumpkins. Man, that name just gives me chills. It’s the band I grew up with and continue to listen to consistently, every single day. Their album from 1995, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness is possibly the most ambitiously great set of soundwaves my ears have ever wrapped their waxy lobes around. 

   I do remember there were a few tracks on here that used to scare me, but since then I have grown and am only scared of one of the tracks now. Improvement much, Dad? The track that I was consistently scared of was “Tales of a Scorched Earth,” because Billy Corgan was absolutely screaming in that track and was masked with a grainy and distorted voice filter. That was petrifying for a 7-year-old me. 

   I’m the type of person who appreciates specific things about music. I’m personally a sucker for catchy choruses that make me feel good. Examples of this I can think of from the top of my head would probably be “Absolution” by Ghost and “Fighting with the Melodyby James Euringer. They both have this spell over me that just makes me want to sing them out. Mellon Collie has so many of these earworm choruses, among other things. It’s filled to the brim with amazing rock instrumentals and gets tied together with Billy Corgan’s teeth-gritting lyricism. The album has 28 songs in total, making this Smashing Pumpkins’ biggest album at the time. There have been copious amounts of “deluxe editions” spawning from this album, too. One, in particular, has a whopping 95 songs on it. It includes the original tracklist, demo versions of many songs, remixes of those songs, and some live performances. It’s just a bunch of small goodies; nothing to write home about. The album on its own spans around two hours or so, whereas that deluxe version will set you back 5 hours of your time you will never get back. Thrilling!

   My personal favorites from this record are ones that you can see where/what my taste in music comes from. Brace yourselves: “Tonight, Tonight”, “Jellybelly”, “Zero”, “Here Is No Why”, “To Forgive”, “An Ode to No one”, “Cupid de Locke”, “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans”, “Bodies”, “Thirty-Three”, “1979”, “X.Y.U”,  “Beautiful”, and “We Only Come Out at Night”. If you’ve listened to any of these, you’d know that most of them have a relatively concrete sound. It’s a rock album after all, so it’s bound to be… rock. There are a few exceptions with my selections, however. Songs like “Beautiful” and “Cupid de Locke” have a nice, relaxing tone with them, and they also carry entirely different instrumental sounds. “Beautiful” has a claved-down piano in it, and its backbone is an electronic beat maker that has sampled various snapping noises. “Cupid de Locke” has a harp in the background, and its main supporting instrument is a tuned-up bass. This is what makes the album ambitious; putting songs that are nowhere near rock, on an album with its main genre being rock, was a tad unheard of for its time. 

   There are a few tracks that I don’t necessarily like, however. The two I think of immediately are “Farewell and Goodnight” and “Thru the Eyes of Ruby.” I can’t quite say why I dislike them, but the main thing I do know is that the pacing on them bothers me. Horribly. That’s the only problem I have with the songs I don’t like. I’m super nitpicky about the pacing and execution of songs. In a prettier way of saying it, I don’t bother with them if the measures and lyrics of the song aren’t perfectly on-beat and take years to get to a drop in the song. Some of these songs don’t even HAVE drops, and it’s just a consistent key and measure… nothing new would happen, just mediocre lyrics and vocals.

   All-in-All, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness is a great record with some meat on its bones. It’s definitely worth a whole listen-through. If you have ears and a brain, I promise at least a few tracks will stick with you and you’ll eventually fall in love with the ‘Pumpkins as I did.