The ex-Smashing Pumpkin has produced an album full of bright and breezy pop songs that...
Dan Tallis 2003
Zwan is Billy Corgan's new band. The ex-Smashing Pumpkin has produced an album full of bright and breezy pop songs that are full of the joys of life. This is a back to basics record that will satisfy Pumpkin heads and should bring on board a whole new legion of fans.
Billy Corgan finally brought The Smashing Pumpkins to an end in 2000. The final couple of years of their illustrious career had been fraught with death, drug abuse and, with their last studio album Machina / The Machines Of God, critical and commercial failure.
To form Zwan Corgan called upon old friends Slint / Tortoise guitarist Dave Pajo, Skunk guitarist Matt Sweeney, A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin and fellow Pumpkin drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. Together they've got the enthusiasm, excitement and vitality that all new bands possess. Combine that with years of experience and the invaluable ability to produce radio friendly pop songs and you have a winning team.
The 14 tracks on Mary Star of the Sea do sound like Smashing Pumpkins songs. Corgans nasal voice is instantly recognisable but it is the guitars that sound most familiar; sonic noises and guitar riffs that soar. As with classic Pumpkins albums, this record features heavy rock anthems ("Ride A Black Swan"), followed by more peaceful ballads ("Heartsong").
The album is jam packed full of great songs. "El Sol" is a beautiful indie track, "Yeah" is just plain cool and "Jesus I / Mary of the Sea" is a fantastic 14 minute epic roller coaster ride!
If you disliked the doom and gloom that was so characteristic of the Pumpkins later albums you have nothing to fear. Mary Star of the Sea is full of fun and simple happiness, even love. 'There is no place I could be without you...I feel love' sings Corgan in the superb "Honestly". You can sense the enjoyment the band had in making these bouncy pop songs. Beware; you won't be able to wipe the smile of your face.
Is it better or worse than The Smashing Pumpkins? Who cares, it sounds great and that's good enough for me.