The Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania
- By Jon Bye -
- Jun 29, 2012
With a new Smashing Pumpkins album the world once again greets Billy Corgan, perhaps the most Marmite of all the alternative rockers to emerge from the early 90s. 'Oceania' comes some five years after The Smashing Pumpkins resurrection album 'Zeitgeist'. With only two of the original members on board at that point, the sound of Zeitgeist somewhat fittingly pointed to a new era for the band – more dynamic and less rooted in the song structures that had defined the Pumkin sound.
Strange then, that with Corgan the only surviving member for Oceania and even some of the musicians from Zeitgeist departed, this album has returned almost to formula. There are some clear differences though. 'Quasar' illustrates this, taking a Gish-era sound and interweaving psychedelic guitar lines. It breaks with the Pumkin-shaped mould but still sounds coherent and complimentary.
Thankfully Corgan has abandoned harmonising with himself on this album (see ‘Bleeding with the Orchid’), and bassist Nicole Fiorentino compliments Corgan beautifully on the orchestral ‘Pin Wheels’, strangely reminiscent of the past days of D'arcy Wretzky. ‘The Chimera’ too gives a hearty hint towards days past, retaining the upbeat melody and harmonised guitars that so enticed fans the first time around. ‘Panopticon’ too impresses with a bombastic riff that melts into a gentle chorus.
Elsewhere efforts are more varied in their success. ‘The Celestials’ heads a little into Neil Young country than is comfortable for Billy Corgan. Meanwhile, ‘Wildflowers’ aims at pseudo-experimental strings but misses the mark somewhat.
In all, there’s much to be content with in this latest release. Rather than wild alteration or regression, Oceania is a healthy development of The Smashing Pumpkins. Granted, many would like to see the original line-up back together to perform it. But as that’s not an option, this release from the new incarnation of The Smashing Pumpkins comes in as a great second option.
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