For all of their previous accomplishments, nothing could have prepared the world for what the Chicago-based Smashing Pumpkins would bring to the table with their double-album/masterpiece, "Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness." Co-produced by Flood (Nine Inch Nails), the set -- which marks the third effort the band -- is as lush as it is intimate, as ambitious as it is focused and every bit as grand as such an affair should be.
From the opening swells of the hit "Tonight, Tonight," the amount of growth marked between this and the band's previous effort, "Siamese Dream" is evident. A sweeping ballad that is unlike anything the band had poduced before, it's not only indicative of the what was to come, but also merely a sampler of the wide variety of sounds the album has to offer. From there we are treated to the retro-pop of "1979," a nostalgic anthem of sorts that finds the band working with a drum machine for the first time since recruiting drumming powerhouse Jimmy Chamberlin. Bassist D'arcy Wretzky dominates on heavier fare such as "Zero" (a signature song of the band) and the superior "Tales of a Scorched Earth," which threatens to overload and obliterate even the best sound system. It's not all sonic bombast, though, as some of the simpler tracks like "Muzzle" (which carries the trademark vintage Pumpkins sound) and "Thirty-Three" are the stars that burn the brightest.
From front to back, not a moment on "Mellon Collie" is wasted. Not only is the band in top form and firing on all cylinders (arguably for the first and last time in their career) but Corgan's songwriting hits an all-time high as well. Unlike many of their fellow rockers, Smashing Pumpkins weren't afraid to embrace accessibility and reach new heights creatively, and to that end, "Mellon Collie & The Inifinite Sadness" is one of the most competent and most compelling rock releases of the 90's. A true classic that no collection -- alternative or otherwise -- should go without.
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