Hello, my fellow (The) Smashing Pumpkins fans! I’m sorry for this late album review. To be honest, I was flaky about writing it. I have another album review coming up, and I decided not to write that one unless I finish this. So here it goes.
Reminiscent of their early-mid years, the album won’t disappoint fans with this fated Billy Corgan, James Iha, and Jimmy Chamberlin reunion. While I am pleased about this, it didn’t actually excite me so much, as the momentum has faded right after Corgan’s release of Zeitgeist. During that time, I guess everyone has already accepted the fact that the three original members left Corgan. I also wasn’t shocked about this anymore because after Chamberlin reunited with Corgan, I knew that Iha would be next.
This 8-track album, the least songs they had in an album to date, is a nostalgic mix. As an old fan, it’s unusual that I had to listen to it bit by bit. I almost decided to skip the album review because I didn’t like it the first time I listened to it even though many of the songs are reminiscent of their past albums. My hormones weren’t that reactive to it because I’m the kind of person who always yearns for something new especially when it comes to music. Well, that was until I listened to it again (before and while writing this review). I actually like it now (talk about being flaky)!
After listening to the album, one would say that the men have not been listening to new music which I actually also notice in my older musician friends. Many of my friends still listen to what they listen to during their high school or college days which is not so bad actually. I’d be more disappointed if Corgan and the rest of the group would try out indie rock. I would think that they just want to be more marketable especially with the upsurge of the millennial hipster culture.
It seems like James Iha, after having collaboration with Taylor Hanson in Tinted Windows and working on some OSTs of Japanese shoujo movies like Linda Linda Linda, brought the alternative-pop influence in some of their songs. However, as one of his big fans, I’m missing his melancholic and dreamy compositions (a track like Take Me Down or The Boy) in this album. Billy Corgan has always been consistent, especially with all the oscillating melodies his vocals play out in every key. As a jazzer turned rocker, Jimmy Chamberlin has been quite humble with his beats this time. It might be because he’s syncing it to the many simple guitar riffs that didn’t need his usual fast beats (can anyone tell me what his style is? Sorry not a drummer here).
Their first single, Solara sounded very popish in the intro (think Fountains of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom LOL), which I’m guessing is Iha’s doing. However, digging deeper into the song, it appears to be like Bullet with Butterfly wings and Zero of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album. No wonder it’s the first single. Marching On and Seek and You Shall Destroy offer the same feel.
The first song in the album, Knights of Malta, is a great intro, with its symphonic and orchestrated style. I’m guessing this is more like Corgan’s track because it is very Zeitgeist and Tonight Tonight of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Travels and With Sympathy are songs that alternative rock fans who are not necessarily The Smashing Pumpkins fans might like. Alienation reminds me of U2, so I guess fans of the Irish band would love it.
I like Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts) as the intro is like 1979 of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. I guess that’s the reason why they made it the second single–to excite old fans like me. The song gave me goosebumps the third time I listened to the album (after a few months), not because it’s new to me, but because it gives me full of nostalgia.
Chasing Dead Ends?
I don’t think Corgan, Iha, and Chamberlin are chasing dead ends or just wanted to make money by reuniting. It might be that they miss the enthusiasm of the fans during the peak of their career (especially in the mid-90s during their Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album) that their post-breakup endeavors didn’t provide. Hence, it’s like 1995 once again. All the 90s memories come to life.
I guess Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1/LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. is not much of a disappointment for fans like me. Yes, I was about to blog negatively about it–if only I didn’t listen to it again today. It depends on the mood, really. They’ll be quickly forgiven by music critics because this is their reunion album and maybe they intended it to be like this. However, in their next album, I’m hoping for new material and experimentation with the whatever new music they have been listening to while being away from each other. Plus, at least a D’arcy Wretzky guesting, perhaps?
Art by Jim Morada