THE SMASHING PUMPKINS ARE OUT OF THE ZEITGEIST
I’m as sentimental as the next guy, and I know it just doesn’t feel like a Smashing Pumpkins reunion with James Iha and D’Arcy (hell, I’d settle for Melissa Auf der Maur), but let’s face facts: Billy Corgan was always the most important element of the Pumpkins’ success, and Billy Corgan has completely forgotten how to write a decent rock song. In other words: God himself could play lead guitar for this band and Zeitgeist would still blow goats.
The album starts off kind of promisingly with the hard rocking “Doomsday Clock,” and every once in awhile, Corgan seems to stumble ass-backwards into a semi-decent song, like the power ballad “Bleeding the Orchid,” which sounds just vintage-grungy enough to be convincing. And I appreciate Corgan’s attempt to be a little more creative than your average rock star (note the use of xylophones on “Neverlost”).
But all of that’s pretty irrelevant in the face of Corgan’s boring, hookless songwriting. There are almost no memorable choruses here, let alone a decent riff, and only a few songs into the album, all the tunes begin to blend together, to the point where I can’t even remember what makes “7 Shades of Black” different from “Tarantula” (probably nothing). The nine minute “United States” is obviously supposed to be some kind of epic, but, really, it’s just a pretentious bore (the first minute and a half is just mindless, distortion-heavy strumming – seriously), and “Starz” is the crappiest song ever written about a Disney-owned cable network.
Bottom line: Billy Corgan’s drifting from shitty new band (Zwan) to shitty new solo album to shitty “reunion” with the group (name) from his salad days seems like a desperate ploy to launch himself back into the limelight – which makes Corgan the Tommy Lee of alt-rawk (Methods of Mayhem, anyone?). It’s not just that Corgan is no longer part of the zeitgeist; he’s a self-parody.
(two out of five horns)