Another smashing record
For any kid my generation — i.e. who hasn’t been a kid in quite a while — the Smashing Pumpkins were a big deal. Mellon collie and the infinite sadness, their 1995 opus, was a huge deal — literally: 28 tracks, out of which several I heard so much they may have reached (or, rather, breached) my musical tolerance. There is such a thing: you hear a song so many times (I mean, hundreds, probably thousands) you sort of become immune to it; might as well as be background noise. What I wall the “Wonderwall” effect.
Anyway, songs like “1979” or “Zero” or “Bullet with butterfly wings” were such songs: they literally represent months of my adolescent life (especially “1979”, for some reason: maybe its peaceful tone makes it become all the more numbing with time). Consequently, band leader Billy Corgan, his quirky appearance and somewhat high pitched, nasal voice are one of the few I would recognize in an instant, in any kind of blind test. Probably even in my sleep.
Of course, the Smashing Pumpkins don’t amount to a sole album, however big it may be: the next one, Adore, had equally heavy airtime back in the 90’s, although perhaps not achieving the same cult status as its predecessor. Then again, achieving it once is already venturing rarefied air. After that came several suites of albums — Corgan obviously likes the idea of serialized art — until today. Or, rather, November 16th and the release of their 10th studio album, the eloquently named Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.
And I didn’t know.
A couple of days ago, I saw something online about an upcoming European tour. This triggered my curiosity: the band has had several iterations, line-ups, lives really (although always with Corgan at the center: it’s not a one-man band, but still: he’s all over the place). Which logically made their touring somewhat irregular. So… I did a little research (Google counts) and discovered that a new album had just emerged. Preceded by a couple of singles I hadn’t event heard — or heard about.
I’ll say one thing: Billy Corgan is and always will be Billy Corgan. In other words, it only takes a few seconds to feel the tonality, universe, atmosphere of the man in any of these new creations. That’s a good thing: his style is quite unique, always rich as well as somewhat quirky. Or strange. Dissonant is not the word, but you always feel a degree of unease in his music: age may have moderated Corgan’s approach to reality, that still doesn’t mean he’s your typical well adjusted suit-wearing office-working kind of guy. Thank f**k for that.
The whole — short — album (8 tracks, a rather long way from the Mellon collie days…) plays out extremely well. It showcases impeccable stylistic consistency, likely satisfying a following eager for the band’s sophisticated yet powerful blend of rock. Arguably the strongest piece is “Solara”, the first single released back in June — good choice for a launch. It’s got everything you want it to have: dense guitar riffs, a nice crescendo towards the chorus, an overall feeling darkness, or at least oddity, in the melodic structure and a beautifully bizarre music video to match.
Hearing new Smashing Pumpkins tunes is a treat: we’re well aware, and highly appreciative!