Billy Corgan has a head the size of Mount Rushmore. We all know this and accept this because he’s made some brilliant music over the years, but all of that ended 7 years ago when he officially pulled the plug on Smashing Pumpkins. His post-SP project Zwan was a bit of a bore, and his solo album was virtually unlistenable — even Corgan seemed to know this. It was on the street date of his ill-advised solo album that he took out ads in 2 major Chicago newspapers announcing the reunion of the Pumpkins… it may have taken 2 years, and he may have only one of the original members to join him on this new journey (drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, of course), but the band that quietly created one of the most definitive sounds of the ’90s has put out a brand new album in Zeitgeist.
Now here’s where it gets a little tricky… Does it sound like the old stuff? Yes. Is it as good? Sort of.
Zeitgeist is the Pumpkins at their most aggressive. It’s Corgan and Chamberlin’s victory march: we are here and we can still rock!. Still, it lacks some of the exotic flavors of albums like Siamese Dream or their epic masterpiece double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. If what you like best about this band are the big rock numbers — “Zero,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “Cherub Rock” — you will not be disappointed with the stadium guitar flinging that Corgan dishes out and Chamberlin backs up.
However, if it’s the softer side you crave — “1979,” “Today,” “Disarm,” “Tonight Tonight” — you may have to just cross your fingers for the next release because Zeitgeist has nothing but testosterone from start to finish (the closing “Pomp and Circumstances” is about as soft as it gets). And while I love my rock to rock, I expect a bit more introspective moments from my Pumpkins. It’s the ebbs and the flows that made them such a vital band, and the reason why Corgan was sort of entitled to his arrogance.
Perhaps I’ll just make a playlist from this album and the texturized subtle moments from prior releases to satisfy my own need for balance.
Smashing Pumpkins: www.smashingpumpkins.com