Billy Corgan returns with a mighty blast of intense (though humour-free) rock majesty.
Louella Deville 2007
In their prime The Smashing Pumpkins were pompous, bombastic, almost apologetically unfashionable but mostly just an awesome rock band.
Chief Pumpkin Billy Corgan seemed to be a grunge Morissey in the early 90s, massively talented but despised and revered in equal measure. Was he the saviour of rock or just a monumentally precious, whining tosser, guilty of taking himself far too seriously and seemingly bereft of any recognisable sense of humour?
Like the po-faced Manchunian Smiths man, Corgan was both. Again, just like The Smiths man, after his band disbanded, his latter work palled into significance compared to his earlier triumphs.
So years after Billy’s ill-fated Zwan project, Chicago Billy is back, head still shaven and still looking like Uncle Fester’s guitar-wielding twin.
Guitarist James Iha and bassist Darcy were not invited back for the big reunion, or maybe they just laughed out loud when they heard the title of this LP, the band’s sixth but first with just drummer Jimmy Chamberlain and Corgan as the only original members.
Zeitgeist? Why not just call your LP 'Showing off on Facebook', 'Complaining about reality TV', or 'Download the best songs', all equally stupid but utterly now titles.
Still, at least the music pummels away with no mercy, like a rabid boxer or an annoying child next to you on the bus. ‘'Doomsday Clock'’ kicks off the record and it is fiercely, brilliantly intense rock, the like of which even the Pumpkins themselves haven’t really managed since '‘Quiet'’ booted the hell out of their breakout album, Siamese Dream.
Ex heroin-addict Chamberlain is still a drummer not to be trifled with, and there will be moments when listeners may wonder, like on the taut, puncturing ‘'7 Shades Of Black'’, how exactly the former jazz drummer hits his snares that hard without his elbows disintegrating into dust. Top work, fella.
Skinhead Bill still sings in the same vampiric croak and yes, still bangs on histrionically about how sad it is to be a millionaire rock-star. But even that can’t hide the fact that this tightly-produced slab of angst is not just a return to form for the world’s favourite vegetable band but a stonking rock album in its own right. Now back to Illinois with you, and don’t show your face round here ‘til you’ve learnt some jokes.