Archive for the ‘smashing pumpkins’ Category

The Smashing Pumpkins — Zeitgeist (2007)

August 27, 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

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