Monday, August 06, 2007

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

(I've been slacking. I know. I'm sorry. But I'm back, and hopefully I can catch up with all the great [and some of the not-so-great] stuff that has come out recently.)

The Smashing Pumpkins (read: Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin) announce their comeback in grand fashion from the opening riff of this album. “Doomsday Clock” opens with Chamberlin’s amazing drumming, followed by a nasty-heavy Pumpkins riff. By the 2 minute mark of the first song, you’re hooked, and you’ve already forgotten that they ever broke up in the first place.
The massive guitars and drums. The unmistakable nasal vocals. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Pumpkins are back. And, while I can’t say they’re better than ever, I can say that it appears as though they’ve never missed a beat. They could have released this album directly after Machina, and it would sound every bit as good as it does now.
It never quite matches the brilliance of their earlier albums, but it definitely matches the intensity of anything they’ve ever released before. And, after all this time, Billy still has an impeccable sense of timing and melody.
True, half of the original band is missing from this current incarnation (so long, James Iha and D’arcy), and that’s kind of a shame, but who are we kidding? Everyone knows that the Pumpkins have always revolved around Billy Corgan. Do I miss Iha and D’arcy? I’d be lying if I said no…but I don’t miss them as much as I thought. With Corgan at the helm, this sounds as much like a Pumpkins album as anything they’ve done. Some of the song titles conjure up memories of Zwan (most notably “That’s the Way (My Love Is)” and “(Come On) Let’s Go!”), but the songs themselves have a definite Pumpkins sound. So, for all of you who didn’t like the Zwan album (I do not include myself in that group), have no fear.
The one “down moment” on this album is the overly long “United States”. While it is not necessarily a bad song, it does run a bit long. Granted, the Pumpkins have had a number of long songs in the past (“Starla” and “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” are my two favorites), but this one almost just seems long for the sake of long. Let me put it this way: by the time the song ends, you’re pretty ready for it to be over.
But that’s only one down moment. The rest of the album is nothing less than stellar. Songs like “Bleeding the Orchid”, “Tarantula”, “Starz”, and the aforementioned “That’s the Way (My Love Is)” and “Doomsday Clock” stand up against just about anything the Pumpkins have ever done.
This entire album really shows the Pumpkins at the top of their game, which is really very impressive, considering they haven’t recorded an album since 2000. Is it the best album of their career? Of course not. But it’s a very impressive comeback, and one that leaves me hoping they keep this thing going.

Rating: 7.8

Essential Tracks: “Bleeding the Orchid”, “Starz”, “Neverlost”

Favorite Tracks: “Doomsday Clock”, “That’s the Way (My Love Is)”, “Tarantula”

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Britt said...

Seeing how Mellon Collie was the soundtrack of my late high school years I guess I should check out Zeitgeist. Good review!

Fosterface said...

I think it's funny that you gush over this one but only rate it 7.8.