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Review of the Album "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" by The Smashing Pumpkins

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" Is a Special Album in the History of Alternative Rock

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is the 3rd studio album by alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins and this 1995 album will more than likely provide us with a lot of nostalgia for these times. This is a huge double album with 28 songs and it is the band’s biggest statement made at the time that be prepared to be exposed to a ton of music on a double album. That part is the perspective of this writer.

Billy Corgan Explains the Concepts Behind the Making of "Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness"

The songs were intended to be part of a concept album representing both day and night though vocalist Billy Corgan has rejected this idea of the double album being a concept album. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was described at the time for being more vague and loose than the band’s previous works. One thing is for sure and that is that this album has quite a few hit songs in it. Corgan elaborated further on the approach for the album from a conceptual standpoint saying that the album is based on the human condition of mortal sorrow. Corgan also sought to have the album be aimed at an audience of people ages 14 to 24 that may have experienced a whole host of feelings but were not able to articulate them.

"Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" Song Only

For those of you that miss this album, this photo may help revive your love of the album.

For those of you that miss this album, this photo may help revive your love of the album.

The Best Album From The Smashing Pumpkins

For the time that this double album was released in October 1995, grunge rock had established itself as part of the mainstream and Nirvana had just disbanded the year before following the death of Kurt Cobain. The Smashing Pumpkins from Chicago were pretty much the biggest and most famous alternative rock band at the time as Foo Fighters was just a new band at the time. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in spite of its title isn’t the sort of album that will bring your mood down. On the contrary it is an album that will do the opposite to your mood. It shows the diversity of The Smashing Pumpkins up to this point. They are not just focusing on heavy alternative rock but they are mixing things up very well to include the beautiful and atmospheric song “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans.” Listening through this album in 2021 has me convinced that it represents the point of greatest musical diversity for The Smashing Pumpkins and it is the best of their early releases. It will be very difficult for some people to sit for 2 hours and listen to any band, even The Smashing Pumpkins even if the songs are that great. The only con to such a brilliant album such as this may be the sheer length of it given that there are 28 songs over 2 albums.

The Title Track and Tonight, Tonight Start Off This Album

This long double album starts off in the softest way possible with the title track and Billy Corgan playing the piano, an instrument that I myself played for several years. There are contributions from additional musicians such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra providing us with additional orchestration on the song “Tonight, Tonight.” The song is lyrically trying to tell us that or lives have forever changed.

Another Reason Why This is a Special Album

Even for The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness represents somewhat of a departure from their earlier releases in the sense that there is orchestration and more of a vocal participation by the other band members.

"Take Me Down"

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This Album Has Many Notable Songs Including "Bullet With Butterfly Wings"

“Jellybelly” is a sort of return stylistically to songs on Siamese Dream. “Zero” has one of the catchiest main riffs and the song lyrically is about the sadness of the human condition and this speaks to what Billy Corgan said about mortal sorrow. Corgan really lets out his rage with this song when he utters “intoxicated with madness.” Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is a notable release because there is more than one single that did well on the musical charts. In the first album of 14 songs, “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” was the band’s first single to get as high as #40 on the Billboard 100 musical charts. The song lyrically is about rebelling against the status quo of things as Corgan sings that “despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage.” That is a metaphor for being stuck in a sort of prison where advancing in life is very difficult as what is lost can never be saved. This next part may be just a minor set of details but in looking back at this album, it is reasonable to surmise that this is a double album that does talk about night time as well as love and romance. An example of a song that addresses night time is the song “We Only Come Out At Night” where there is constant reference to coming out at night because the days are seen as so dull and boring. The days are described as too bright. This is one of those songs by this band that is remarkably different from what I’ve even heard before. Those that think that this double album is one dimensional just need to take a look at the industrial influenced song “Love.” There is not any guitar overkill as Billy Corgan mentioned. Then comes the lovely sounding “Cupid De Locke.” Cupid is known for representing and symbolizing love. There is also a reference to the Devil as the devil may do what it does to gain an advantage over the good force of love.

"Cupid De Locke" 2012 Mix Version

Here Is the Most Musically Varied Album from The Smashing Pumpkins

Yes, there are songs on this double album that have distorted guitars but The Smashing Pumpkins with this release are taking their musical ambitions in a more varied and mature direction and it shows in the songwriting. Even though this album is super long, it is rather pleasant to the ears and it will not overwhelm your senses. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is another example of how bands were changing their styles and musical approach in the 1990s. This album isn’t just about musical notes or expression. It is like a tale of love and loss and if you really enjoy this double album enough it is like a work of art. This album has the potential to help you make it through your darkest times and days.

As far as albums released in 1995, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is one of the best of that year regardless of musical genre. This may be a bold statement to make but for fans of this band, they will see the awesomeness of this double album.

"We Only Come Out At Night"

Rate the Album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

"Bullet With Butterfly Wings"

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Ara Vahanian

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