Pisces Iscariot review by The Smashing Pumpkins

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  • Released: Oct 4, 1994
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (18 votes)
The Smashing Pumpkins: Pisces Iscariot

Sound — 10
This album is a masterpiece. Like any pumpkins album, there's a great mixture of loud rock songs and soft emotional ones. One of my favorite tracks would probably have to be Corgan's version of Fleetwood Mac's Landslide, but out of the stuff he wrote, Whir is probably my fav. It was originally going to be on Siamese Dream and, in my opinion, could have easily been a single. In terms of sound, about 1/3 of the record seems to be professionally recorded, while the other tracks were either recorded in Corgan's home or recorded live, so the album has a very interesting feel. It's a lot more stripped down than say, Siamese Dream, which features over 50 layers of guitars on some songs. This album let's you see that even without Studio tricks, the Pumpkins are still an amazing band. James Iha even sings one song (Blew Away). In terms of style, the album is closer to the Gish-era Pumpkins than anything. It's very hard-rock, but also very noisy: kinda like Sonic Youth-noisy, but with much more structure. Certain songs like Girl Named Sandoz and Hello Kitty Kat are filled with screeching distorion and in-your-face guitar solos. The album really shows you another side of Billy's guitar playing. In Siamese Dream his solos are very slow and melodic, but in this album he plays some really technical stuff and lot's of noisy things that would impress the shoegaze fans.

Lyrics — 9
I don't really pay much attention to lyrics when listening to song, but the lyrics aren't very different from Corgan's other work. Lot's of stuff about girls and love, and then there's tons of random things that no one could possibly understand. But Billy's voice is definately worth listening to. Because much of the album is not professionally recorded, you get to really hear his true voice. There isn't much vocal layering or complex EQ and reverb tricks. Without that extra "fluff" Billy's voice is still wonderful, especially during the quieter songs (Whir, Obscured, ). And even on Landslide, which was recorded in Corgan's bedroom, his voice is stunning. But even when Billy is screaming above screeching guitars, his voice really shines through. There are a lot of heavy rock songs that feature him belting his lungs out.

Overall Impression — 10
Compared to the other albums Pisces Iscariot really stands out because of it's stripped-down presentation. The Pumpkins generally do things in the studio that could never be reproduced live, so this is a good oppurtunity to hear what they really sound like. If I had to compare it to one album, I'd say it's most like Gish, though a few songs were actually written for Siamese Dream. It's hard to say what the best song is on the album, so I'll just say it's a tie between Tracks 2 through 12. What I love about this album is that, like all Pumpkins albums, each song is very different, and the album has a wide range of heavy and quiet songs. Also, it's helped me get a better idea of how a Pumpkins record (or any record for that matter) is recorded, because most of the songs are either live or very rough recordings, or songs recorded just in Corgan's own home. The only thing I don't like about this album is that it doesn't have the song Drown, which was written around 1990, so it would have fit perfectly on the album. If it was stolen I would definately buy another one, simply because on the inside of the case there's a great picture of the Pumpkins from the Gish-Siamese Dream days where they all look like goofy wanna-be rockers. It just gives you the feeling that you really know who the Pumpkins are, or something like that. Anyway, I think it's a funny picture, so I wouldn't want it being stolen.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    Landslide was recorded at the BBC studios. not that it matters, I'm just being a geek. This is my second favorite album by them right after Mellon Collie.