With "Stupid Dream" Porcupine Tree had found a comfortable voice and a creative surge with a slickly produced prog-pop. This rapid follow up cements that style with a finely crafted set of songs, and is a stronger album overall. The studio clutter is toned down slightly, in favour of simpler textures, acoustic guitar and letting the songwriting speak for itself. The great title track is a perfect example with its plaintive strummimg verses and driving rock chorus. The McCartney-esque breakup song "How is Your Life Today" has a decent stab at a Beach Boys / Beatlesy vocal harmony. "Four Chords that Made a Million" has a fine title and a good catchy tune. The one traditional extended number "Russia On Ice" starts off as a magnificently chilling string backed song, but drifts away into an ordinary prog instrumental. "Feel So Low" finishes the album with the kind of orchestrated misery that Spiritualized were doing on their "Ladies and Gentlemen..." album. Curiously this was the first song I heard that mentioned "email".
August 26, 2003