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20

“Cherub Rock”

Corgan has certainly harbored his fair share of resentment toward the music press, but “Cherub Rock” elevated that antagonism into a beautifully seething art form. Bolstered by a thick, chunky wall of distortion and an eminently hummable main hook, the Siamese Dream opener collects all of Corgan’s ire—toward his critics, toward rival bands, toward enemies both real and imagined—and blasts it upward and outward with the rocket-powered force of the band’s liquid-smooth guitar prowess.

4

“Stumbleine”

“Stumbleine” is a demure, rural lullaby, its childlike narrative of horse stables and sea voyages punctuated only by Corgan’s voice and a willowy steel acoustic. It’s through that quiet simplicity that the track brings Mellon Collie’s latent, turn-of-the-century storybook tableaux to the surface, better capturing the album’s esoteric, fairytale mythology than any of the blustery epics beside it.

3

“Disarm”

“Disarm” landed at #54 on our list of the Best Singles of the 1990s, with Ed Gonzalez recognizing the song’s bleak lyricism as “the unmistakable cry of an abuse victim.” But Corgan’s naked pain ultimately allowed his bandmates to surpass the sweaty-haired psychedelia of their Sub Pop origins. Beyond its tightly wound ensemble of strings and bells and its flair for the orchestral, “Disarm” is the moment the Pumpkins stopped being simply a group of disaffected alterna-rockers and became something far more poignant, artful, and consequential.

2

“1979”

Just as its title suggests the inevitable cusp of a new decade, “1979” exists at the crossroads of two Pumpkins eras, the literal embodiment of the band’s passage from arena-spanning glam rock into a more insular world of processors, drumpads, and synthetic instrumentation. For these four minutes, at least, Corgan and company marry the old and the new perfectly, resulting in their first, and best, attempt at injecting bouncy new wave into their churning, guitar-laced sound.

1

“Mayonaise”

A longtime fan favorite that’s often brushed aside for more bombastic examples in discussions of the band’s greatest feats. But in drawing together all the many shards of the band’s sound, “Mayonaise,” from Siamese Dream, accomplishes something that has so far eluded every other Pumpkins track: Holding up a mirror grand enough to reflect all the pieces of the group’s tortured, sensitive, and wonderfully fractured soul. The image it reflects is both polished and visceral, loud and soft, angst-ridden and sublime. In short, all the qualities that make the band’s work significant.

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