In the year of the comebacks, it was the Pumpkins one which got any self-respecting alternative rocker really excited. It's different to most of the others, like The Police, and The Eagles (CASH COWS!) or Spinal Tap (A JOKE BAND!) or the Spice Girls (BOTH!) because rather than just a lengthy world tour where they would have their devotees over a barrel, paying through their collective nose for overpriced tickets and merchandise, there would be an album of new material as well, and here it is, Zeitgeist.
Well, it would be a bit of a stretch to call this a Smashing Pumpkins record really, as only Corgan and Chamberlain remain from the classic line-up, it could just as easily be called a Billy Corgan solo album. That said, the wailing, heavy metal guitars and OTT production means this sounds quintessentially Pumpkins, Jimmy Chamberlain's drums also sound mightily impressive. The trouble is, while this may have that Smashing Pumpkins 'sound', it lacks any of the classic songwriting or sheer inventiveness of their peak, attributes that were abundant on Mellon Collie.
Songs start off with great ides or riffs, 'Bleeding the Orchid' being an example, but they are stretched on until they become interminable. Similarly, 'United States' tries to be ominous and atmospheric, but ultimately falls flat under the weight of its own pretentiousness.
It's not all doom and gloom though, 'Tarantula', wisely chosen as the lead-off single, is a triumphant glam stomper, worthy of a place in the Corgan canon. Also, 'That's the Way (My Love Is)' is a welcome relief from the oppressive murkiness that hangs over the album, and sounds more like Corgan and Chamberlains now defunct, Pumpkins-on-Prozac band, Zwan. In this case that is no bad thing.
When the Smashing Pumpkins grace the stage at this year's Carling Weekend,
you can bet your bottom dollar the crowd won't be screaming for tracks from