11.24.2007

REVIEW: Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

This review will be up on zengrooves.com shortly

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

Friends and Neighbours, when I heard Smashing Pumpkins was coming out with a new album, I so wanted to submit a 2 word review: "Fuck Zwan".

Sadly, it is not to be. I used to be a BIG SP fan. BIG. Had all the albums, the t-shirts, the de rigeur SP/Billy Corgan fan-girl girlfriend, the whole bit. I heard the first single "Doomsday Clock" and thought "This rocks! They're back! Woo hoo!". It didn't hurt that I heard it while watching Transformers. Giant Robots blowing shit up will make anything that much cooler.

In short: To this reviewer, Zeitgeist is a monumental disappointment.

Don't get me wrong, the album is not the worst thing I've ever heard in my life. It's just so....uninspiring. If it had been a terrible experiment gone awry, at least you could say "Well, they tried really hard to do something, but they really screwed the pooch". But that's not the case here. This stuff really sounds mailed in, and yet it doesn't. It's hard to put your finger on.

You can tell that Corgan really misses James Iha, as much as that surprises me, never really giving Iha his due credit in the past. But now that I've heard the band without him, his absence is noticeable. The guitar work is serviceable and tight, but really uncreative, lacking that certain je ne sais quois that Iha brought to past SP efforts. Jimmy Chamberlin is still one of the best drummers in rock, past or present, no marks off there. But the songs are formulaic and trite. You can almost imagine Corgan really wanted Zwan to work, and when it didn't, he thought "I have to get the rock back, and then they'll love me again", and he set out to bridge the gap. And while he somewhat succeeds, the end results are less than moving.

The rock tunes rock, the quiet songs are...quiet (and also sound like an after thought, like Corgan noodling around in the studio and thought "Oh, that's a song, good."). All the songs sound different, and yet somehow really really similar.

And that's really the issue. The songs all sound the same somehow, and none of them are great enough (with the exception of Doomsday Clock) to really kick you in the ass and say "Love me! Cherish me forever!!".

You won't, believe me. So, again, I wish I could say "Fuck Zwan", but it appears Zwan never left. It just put on its RAWK costume.

With a frown in my heart, a 4 / 10

1 comment:

Ian C. said...

No Iha. No Darcy. How is this even approaching being Smashing Pumpkins? This was so blatantly Corrigan having an Adult Moment and realizing he'd built a big, powerful, successful brand before and maybe he should continue to cash in on that because his artistic merit in the last 4 years as a solo artist has taken a nose dive.

The Pumpkins was definitely bigger than the sum of it's parts. For all people went on about Corrigan's genius he's been unable to produce anything close the Pumpkin perfection without his fellow Pumpkin-ettes.

He should have hung it up after Melon Collie. Like Costanza said: always leave on a high note.