The Smashing Pumpkins — Zeitgeist (2007)

The Smashing Pumpkins broke up in 2000 with over a decade’s worth of albums and tours in their pocket. Before frontman Billy Corgan announced last spring that he intended to get the band back together, he and Pumpkin drummer Jimmy Chamberlain palled around and recorded lots of music under various short-lived monikers.

And this fact hangs over Zeitgeist, the first new Smashing Pumpkins album in seven years. It comes across as more of a chance for Corgan to get back in the public’s good graces after several years of lifeless music, using the Pumpkin name as a springboard to do so. The result is a simply a fair, one-dimensional album with a handful of good songs.

Pumpkin albums during the ’90s were good because they had variety, and the band excelled no matter what hat they wore. But aside from a few mid-tempo pop songs, Zeitgeist is one giant riff-fest of over-processed robot guitar fuzz. It sounds soulless and artificial, as do the naively political lyrics. It gets old before the album is even half over.

And the culprit? Corgan’s hands are red–he plays the bulk of the instruments on the album, his ego filling the void left by much-missed guitarist James Iha and bassist D’Arcy Wretzky (they opted not to join up last spring). The band’s current touring line-up almost plays like a bad joke, too–the new bassist (Ginger Reyes of the Halo Friendlies) and rhythm guitarist (Jeff Schroeder of the Violent Burning) are excellent musicians…but they look almost identical to Iha and Wretzky. I think I see where Corgan was going with this, and I don’t like it.

All of the negatives aspects of Zeitgeist don’t completely sink it. A handful of tracks, especially “That’s the Way (My Love Is),” are among the best the band has ever released. That said, Zeitgeist is a return all right–but not necessarily a great one.

-jason panella

listen at myspace

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3 Responses to “The Smashing Pumpkins — Zeitgeist (2007)”

  1. dave Says:

    pretty much sums up my reaction to it as well: milquetoast.

  2. Saberjohn Says:

    Ya, I have to kinda disagree there, I do agree that Mr. Corrigan has revived the band soley for money and such, even though the keyboardist did kill himself, and the bassist and the other rhythm guitarist did not join up with him, that is no real reason to dislike the album. The band is not the Smashing Pumpkins anymore, but the music is reminiscient of what I grew up listening to and reminds me of a happer time, that fact aside, I will still go to the concert in Pittsburgh this October. I do agree that this album does pale to such albums as Pices Iscariot, Siamese Dream, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, but as the saying goes, you cant beat a dead horse, and Mr. Corrigan did realize that, and revived the band. But to say that this is a one dimensional allbum, you are sorely mistake, evidenced in the track, Tarantula. Right as you are riding a high wave, it suddenly goes all soft core and easy listening and then back up to a fever pitch. Although some of the lyrics arer less ambigious as previous songs, like Bullet with Butterfly Wings and Disarm, but none the less, The album is a potent dose of the 90’s, and which you can not handle after listening to such horrible albums as American Idiot and The Black Parade, and having your minds warped by such artists if I could even acknoledge them as such as Fall Out Boy, MCR, and the New Green Day.

  3. Jason Says:

    Thankfully I’ve not had my mind warped by the stuff you’ve mentioned, since I’ve used Green Day and My Chemical Romance as the butt of countless jokes for years (or a decade, in Green Day’s case).

    I will say, though, that using “Tarantula” to prove your point is funny, ironic even–almost every track on the album does the loud verse-loud chorus-soft psychedelic bridge thing.

    And please don’t misread and assume I dislike the album because of who is or isn’t in the band. (I don’t even dislike the album, for that matter; it’s just lacking, but not terrible.) Corgan just didn’t write amazing songs this time around, and the name-change thing (and hiring of Iha/Wretzky lookalikes) is just dishonest.

    If I want a dose of the ’90s, I’ll listen to the ’90s.

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